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James commits to Tide

Ju'Wuan James grew up a basketball fan, but his future will be on the gridiron.

The North Gwinnett offensive lineman committed to the Alabama football program on Friday after a four-month recruiting process.

"I really like the coaches and the atmosphere there," James said. "I've been there so many times it just got better and better. I just felt comfortable there."

The 6-foot-6, 305-pound James grew up playing basketball and didn't start playing football until the eighth grade. He was a tight end on North's 2007 state runner-up team before moving last season to offensive tackle, where he flourished last season.

Because of his size and athleticism, James is rated as one of the top offensive linemen in the country and the top lineman in the Georgia.

He had a strong showing at the U.S. Army All-American game combine in January and since then has picked up 35 scholarship offers. He listed Alabama, Tennessee and Florida as his three finalists.

"(Alabama) has a great winning tradition and a great coaching staff," James said. "I like Coach (Nick) Saban a lot. He seems like a good guy and has a history of winning."

In his second year as Alabama's head coach, Saban took the Tide to a No. 1 ranking during the regular season, a berth in the SEC championship game and played in the BCS Sugar Bowl.

James is the second North junior to commit to Alabama, joining fellow lineman Austin Shepherd, who committed to the Crimson Tide in March. Brookwood senior offensive lineman Kellen Williams also signed with Alabama in February.

"That wasn't a huge influence or anything, but it was definitely a plus to the cause," James said of Shepherd's commitment.

James joins Collins Hill's Charles Perkins (Georgia Tech), Buford's Kolton Houston (Georgia) and North's Shepherd (Alabama) as Gwinnett County's early football commitments. National Signing Day is Feb. 3, 2010.

James has accepted an offer to play in the Under Armour All-American Game, following the 2009 season.

North Gwinnett's season opener is Aug. 28 when it hosts three-time defending Alabama state champion Prattville in the National Football Challenge.

North Gwinnett is 34-7 over the last three seasons, including an appearance to the state finals in 2007 and the quarterfinals last season.