St. Augustine's Brandon James Inducted into the UF Athletics Hall of Fame - Inspiring on and off the Field

Brandon James UF Hall of Fame

Brandon James was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame this weekend.

James, a 2006 St. Augustine High School graduate, helped the Gators win national championships in 2006 and 2008. He is only the second former SAHS football player to be inducted, and his accomplishments on the field are inspiring.

James' achievements on the field were highlighted on by Matthew Hutchison: 
"Brandon James (Football, 2006-09) – Two-time BCS National Championship Game winner (2006, 2008) … Two-time SEC Championship Game winner (2006, 2008) … 2008 Sporting News and FWAA All-America First Team selection … 2008 SEC Special Teams Player of the Year … 2008 All-SEC Coaches First Team … 2007 All-SEC Associated Press and Coaches Second Team … remains the only player in SEC history with 4,000-plus combined kickoff and punt return yards … Concluded his career as the holder of four SEC and school records, including the conference record for career kickoff return yardage with 2,718 yards … Still ranks third in SEC history and holds the school record for career punt return yardage with 1,371 yards."

"Brandon's accomplishments come as no surprise to the people who played with him," says Quinterrance Cooper, Athletic Director at St. Augustine High School and James' former teammate at SAHS. "We got to see it every day, fans just got to see it on game days. His ability made up for size, and he never allowed his size to determine that ability. Brandon is an example for every kid that coaches may say, 'dont meet the tangibles'. His grind, work ethic, and determination was bigger than any scouting report. What the world of College Football got to see for 4 years at the University of Florida, St. Augustine already knew."

Brandon James, UF Gator Football
Brandon James, UF Gator Football (Photo courtesy of UF Gators)

James was in great company this week at the induction ceremony into the UF Athletic Hall of Fame, as his former college teammates Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes were also inducted. 

"All three of these players were tremendous examples of The Gator Standard and have contributed on and off the field to their communities and Gator Nation. I am especially proud of Tebow and James, who both come from local high schools and have returned to Saint Johns County after their football careers," said John Coyle, President of the Gator Club of Saint Augustine. "Brandon James spoke to our Gator Club last year, and he inspired all of us to do great things in our community. I think it's amazing that he has returned to coach local kids."

James is currently the Offensive Coordinator and Running Backs Coach at St. Augustine High School, and he is also a Dean of Students at Murray Middle School. 

"He is the greatest player of my era and most accomplished in our high school's history," says Murray Middle School Football Coach Durell Preston, a former SAHS football player, who is also the head coach for the North Flagler Wild Cats. "More importantly, he is a great person, always thinking of others and always willing to help anyone." Preston says that James is "A great mentor for all of our kids," and when it comes to James' UF Hall of Fame induction, "It shows them that their dreams are endless. No matter your size, if you put in the hard work on the field and in the classroom, then you can achieve anything you set your mind to."

Jacques Johnson, a St. Augustine High varsity football player says "I'm excited for him. He is fun to be around, and it is fun working with him, because of the energy he gives out at practice, it is more than any other coach."

"I'm proud of him," says Darius Rogers, who has been training under James going on two years at St. Augustine High. "He worked very hard to get there." 

"On behalf of myself and the West Augustine Youth Development, we would like to congratulate Brandon James on such a great achievement," said Bo Reid, football director of the West Augustine Yellow Jackets and the SAHS sprint coach. "He's been very instrumental with the youth in our community, whether it is thru a football camp or just giving them some words of encouragement to never give up. From the youth at WAYD to the kids at St. Augustine High School, it is an honor to have him pour his knowledge into these kids. Now they can dream bigger and know that anything is possible because he is living proof."

All around West Augustine, the pride flows freely, whenever you mention Brandon James' name. James makes an impression on and off the field, and giving back to the community where he grew up seems to be second nature, as he is inspiring future leaders through his work.

*This piece was originally posted on the West Augustine News Connection on October 11, 2021.

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