Cory James embracing move to middle linebacker

Keegan Pope

CSU senior linebacker Cory James made the move inside this spring, and has adjusted well to the new position. (Photo by Emmett McCarthy)
CSU senior linebacker Cory James made the move inside this spring, and has adjusted well to the new position. (Photo by Emmett McCarthy)

As Marshawn Lynch famously said, “I’m just about that action boss.” CSU senior linebacker Cory James takes the same approach.

James, who has the fifth-most sacks in Colorado State history with 22, is quiet and humble during interviews, and avoids the spotlight in most moments. At times he seems standoffish, although anyone who knows him well will tell you that he is as good-hearted of a person that they know. As the starter last season at the “Sam” or strong-side linebacker position, James was again a terror for opposing offensive lines, recording 51 tackles, including 8.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. So when new head coach Mike Bobo and defensive coordinator Tyson Summers asked him to move inside to the middle linebacker spot in their 4-3 scheme after the spending the last three seasons on the outisde, he was a little hesitant.

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“At first I was a little confused, and I was like, ‘Why are you doing it?” James said. “But I feel like “Mike” is a better position, I like it, and I like new changes and I’ve really taken on that role.”

James admits that there was a learning curve, not only at a new position, but also in the new scheme. Despite the emergence of Kiel Robinson and Kevin Davis on the outside, moving Davis to middle where had less to do with them and more to do with his ability to make plays, according to defensive coordinator Tyson Summers.

“I think any time you’re talking defensively, and it’s a philosophy I share with Coach (Bobo), if you’re going to be good, most of the time the good defenses are good up the middle,” Summers said. “You want to have your good players as your inside guys on the defensive line, you certainly want your inside backers to be those people and your safeties, too. So the opportunity to get him into a position where he can do a lot of different things for us, regardless of what title he has a middle linebacker or an outside linebacker, it gives us opportunities to put him into a position to be successful and we certainly think that’s it for right now.”

All will agree that he still has things to learn about the intricacies of playing the position, including taking on a more vocal leadership role as the center of CSU’s defense. He’s leaned on former CSU standouts Max Morgan and Aaron Davis for a few tidbits of advice, and both told him that if he ever has questions to not hesitate to call. As the relay between Summers and the rest of the defense on play calls, James has opened up to the idea of leading the unit.

“In the spring I wasn’t that comfortable with it,” James said Monday. “But these three practices (in fall camp), the coaches have been helping me out a lot and I’ve been more comfortable doing it.”

Collegian Senior Sports Reporter Keegan Pope can be reached at kpope@collegian.com and on Twitter @ByKeeganPope.