Photo via Peter J. Nilson
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Class of 2014 running back prospect Chris James thought he might catch the attention of coaches by posting a video of his workout.
The senior standout at Notre Dame College Prep in Niles, Ill., thought correctly: Since the video went live on June 19, it’s been viewed nearly 1.4 million times, and he recently received a scholarship offer from Tennessee (although it’s not clear whether that’s related to the video).
We caught up with James, a 17-year-old who runs a 4.37 40-Yard-Dash and can bench 340 pounds, to find out what it’s like to go viral as a high school athlete.
STACK: Your video currently has 1.4 million views and counting. Did you ever think it would get so much attention, so quickly?
Chris James: Oh no, not at all. That video blew up.
How has that been? Have you been contacted by random people?
Yeah, I’ve been getting people messaging me, saying, “Dude your on Worldstar! Your video has a million views.” Man it’s insane.
Can you tell us about making this video?
During my freshman year, we put a video out there and it got a decent amount of views. After that, I told Jack [Cascio, James’s trainer], “We need to put another video out.” So one day when I was lifting, I decided today is the day. So I did a bunch of drills, put it all together and now it’s blowing up.
So that footage was all from one workout?
Yeah it was.
Probably the most impressive thing from your video is your vertical. How did you develop that?
Jack is a phenomenal trainer. I was athletic when I first met with him, and then Jack turned me into a freak. When we started, my vert was around 29 inches, which isn’t bad for a freshman. You’re still jumping really high. But from there it shot up, and now I’m around 41 inches.
What’s a typical workout for you?
I always try to eat something before working out, because I know you should eat an hour before and an hour after. I then get with Jack, stretch out and socialize. Then I warm up—you definitely have to warm up. Then we usually start out with plyometrics, followed by some explosive stuff, then quickness drills and working my hands. Maybe catch the ball a little bit, and then that’s when I get into my weight routine.
How often do you work out in a week, and for how long
Usually four or maybe five times a week. Workouts last for maybe an hour and a half. We try to get in there and get everything done.
Are there any challenges you’ve faced in the weight room or in training?
When I first started, my form was really bad. My trainer said, “You’re really making it harder on yourself.” Freshman year I couldn’t really hang clean, and my first time squatting I couldn’t really squat. I overcame all of that stuff and now I enjoy lifting.
What’s your favorite type of workout? And least favorite?
I really enjoy doing legs. Some people don’t like leg days, but for me I really enjoy leg workouts. On the least-favorite side, probably Pull-Ups. I don’t know why, I just don’t like them. They’re kinda boring. At my gym, there’s only one pull-up bar, so everyone is standing around staring at you. Aw man, I hate doing Pull-Ups.
Congratulations on your recent offer from Tennessee. What other schools have you heard from?
Right now, I think I have 18 offers. I definitely like Wisconsin, Tennessee, Michigan State and Pittsburgh. Those types of schools are leading the charge right now, but obviously that could change at any moment. I’m pretty open, you know. I’m just trying to enjoy the process.
So your team went 7-5 last season. What are your individual and team goals for the coming season?
Definitely to get ourselves past the quarterfinals. As a team, we want to get to state. We have a motto around our school, “State in ’13.” So we want to make sure people are actually with that and not just saying it to say it because we’re trying to get there this year.
I want to establish myself as a leader. A lot of schools will be keying on me, so our offensive coordinator will use me in different ways this year.
Thanks for taking the time to talk. Congratulations on your recent video success and scholarship offers. Good luck in the future, I’m sure there is more to come.
Thank you so much.