Former Jackson State Tigers edge rusher James Houston is a player that’s garnering a lot of attention as the NFL draft approaches. Houston’s dynamic pass rushing skills are the main reason why his name is being mentioned amongst the draft’s elite edge rushers.
Houston is coming off a dominant season at Jackson State after transferring from Florida. Nicknamed “The Problem,” Houston wrecked games for the Tigers defense, tallying 70 tackles, 16.5 sacks, 24 tackles for loss, and seven forced fumbles.
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At 6 feet 1 and 244 pounds, his size makes him a bit of a “hybrid” or “rover” type, which is an undersized defensive end and linebacker. Houston doesn’t care where he plays, because it’s universally understood that he’s a damn good football player.
Houston revealed what he’s been hearing from teams about him in a recent interview.
“I’ve been getting it all,” Houston said. “Edge rusher, d-end, inside linebacker, outside linebacker. I just chalk it up to I’m just a football player, man. Wherever you want to put me on the field, I’ll play.”
Houston was the linchpin to JSUs stingy and downright nasty defense. At times with the Tigers offense stuck in neutral, he ignited the team with game-changing pressure, strip sacks and even interceptions. His nickname suited him perfectly, “The Problem.” For his efforts he was named first-team All SWAC, STATS FCS All-American and FCS Coaches All-American. He swept the awards, with the exception of SWAC Defensive Player of the Year.
Houston Wasn’t Invited To The Combine
Despite his dominating season, Houston wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine. In fact, only four HBCU players were invited to Indy to show NFL teams what they could do on the biggest stage. His unique skill set is needed in a passing league that throws the ball seven out of every 10 plays.
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His JSU Pro Day numbers have definitely helped his draft stock. “The Problem” ran a smooth 4.6 in the 40 and bench pressed 225 pounds 22 times, showing his unique blend of speed and power. His 39-inch vertical leap is also nice and makes up a bit for what he may lack in height.
JSU defensive line coach Jeff Weeks knows Houston is a Sunday player. Here’s what he said after Houston’s pro day.
“I just love what he’s done. What he did for us was great, but what he did after he left here. You know this pro day is the first time I’ve seen him after he left. I’ve seen him in the all-star games, but you don’t get to see him in person. He’s really built himself up, he’s cut up, he looks good, he’s moving well. He took from his last game and he just made himself better, and that’s crucial. That’s something he needed to do.”
His Play And Build Is Reminiscent Of Micah Parsons
JSU head coach Deion Sanders likens Houston to Cowboys reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Micah Parsons. Parsons lined up everywhere for Dallas in his rookie season, tallying 13 sacks, three forced fumbles and three pass deflections. His play even garnered some NFL DPOY attention.
Coach Prime sees Houston in that mode, and he recently discussed that on the “Rich Eisen Show.”
“Parsons is a freak. man,” Sanders exulted. “He is a darn freak, man. We have a kid who plays defensive end that was an inside linebacker that we moved to defensive end. He was All-SWAC, All-FCS, James Houston, came to us from the University of Florida.
“The kid balled out this year and has all kinds of accolades, but he reminds me of that guy. My whole pitch to him was, ‘Look, man, Parsons was the inside guy, now he’s the inside and outside, he’s everywhere. You could do the same.’ Because he was an inside linebacker for us, but he wouldn’t have started there, so we moved him to the rush, and my God. He broke records, and he is phenomenal.”
Another JSU transfer that’s showed up and showed out for @GoJSUTigers is LB James Houston IV, who came over to the Tigers from the Florida Gators of the SEC. He’s brought his speed, high motor and hard hitting with him @DraftHBCU #DraftHBCUPlayers 🏈 pic.twitter.com/NVPiIYxjyP
— #DraftHBCUPlayers (@DraftHBCU) September 13, 2021
If Houston plays anything like Parsons did in his rookie season, the team who drafts him will have found a gem.