HAZLEHURST, Miss. (WJTV) — Hazlehurst’s Phameko James’ first career catch was a one-handed grab Odell Beckham would be proud of.
“He threw me the ball, it was kind of high, but I was like I’m about to go get it,” James said. “So I reached up. I put my hand where I though the ball would be because my helmet kind of came down, but you know hand-eye coordination. I put my hand up, grabbed the ball, it was a catch.”
But check this out, Indians head coach Damien Gary said James wasn’t even interested in playing football. He was only focused on basketball.
“I always tried to stick to one sport because I always thought lifting weights would make my jump shot worse,” said James.
“My senior year I decided to go on and play because my family and friends and Coach Gary — they all told me to go on ahead and play. So, I didn’t want to leave high school with any regrets, so I chose to play.”
But, that wasn’t until Gary really talked him into coming out to camp over the summer.
“I’ve seen him play basketball on a few occasions. 6-foot-2 kid, 185 and freakishly athletic,” Gary said.
“All during the Summer, I fought with him back and forth, give and take, he would come one week, then he would disappear for two weeks playing basketball. So, eventually I caught him again and I kind of talked him into it. ‘Man, come on just give it one shot.’
And, that was all it took for James to become an internet sensation.
He even had Randy Moss saying his one-handed grab was one of the best of the year on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.
“I wasn’t expecting that, it was mind blowing,” said James. “I was actually in church when I found out. I was like look at God.”
“I’ve seen him do that in practice all the time,” Gary said. “He never catches the ball with two hands. He’s always doing something he has no business doing. I figured he would make that catch before he caught a simple ball. So I wasn’t surprised.”