High School Sports

James brothers tackle new outlooks

The James brothers, in some respects, are as different as night and day, but as inseparable as identical twins can be. Which is why next fall should be interesting.

LeQuawn James, the 6-foot-1, 270-pound center-defensive tackle for the Swansea Tigers, will play football for Newberry College next year, going to school on a combination of football and academic scholarships. He’s as serious a student academically as he is a student of the game of football.

His twin, 6-2, 215-pound LeShawn, is his soul mate and polar opposite. He will be going to Benedict College as a walk-on linebacker/defensive end, who had to make some big-time changes just to get in school.

"He struggled a little bit academically, but ... you see it a lot in high school kids: They play around for a couple of years, and they finally get serious about it,” Swansea football coach Van Lewis said. “He's been serious, and you can see the difference.

"You can tell he's matured and has put forth some great effort on his grades this year."

"LeShawn is a very good athlete," Lewis said. "You can look at his frame and tell that if he fills out — spends some time in the weight room and at the training table, I can see him at 220-240 range real easy."

Being a walk-on is not easy, because your status ranks somewhere between being just a number and being cannon fodder for the varsity to pound in practice.

Not a problem.

"I wouldn't say it will be any tougher, because I'm going to give it my all, anyway," LeShawn James said. "I've been through a lot, so I'm looking at walking on as a positive, and keep my head up, no matter what."

Grades — or for that matter, football — were never a problem for LeQuawn.

"LeQuawn could have gone to Newberry and studied biology and pre-med (which he will this fall) and never played football," Lewis said. "But the fact that he wants to continue on, there's a part of us that doesn't want to give it up."

And, his coach said, he shouldn’t. He’s a very talented athlete.

"He's got really good feet. I think his strength is his run-blocking ability and he also wrestles. Newberry has talked to him about doing that as well. For a big man, he moves pretty well.

"He didn't do it this year, but prior to this year, LeQuawn played soccer as well. He's a good athlete with a big body. And he’s a very driven young man."

But the biggest hurdle both may face is not in the classroom or on the field. It’s looking around and not seeing a mirror image.

"Around school, others have brothers, but they say they can't see how we're so close," LeShawn said.

"It's true," noted his brother. "We're not always together, but when we see each other, we handshake, ask how our days are going, and that kind of thing."

It will be difficult. The two have never been separated for more than a few days. But if their cellphones still work, they’ll survive.

"It could be tough," said LeShawn. "But it's going to be different, no matter what."

Reach McLaurin at (803) 240-3514.