Clemson commit gave up promising soccer career for football

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Clemson's Dabo Swinney (AP)
Clemson's Dabo Swinney (AP)

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney (AP)

Clemson commit James Skalski is not only a 3-star linebacker from Northgate High School, but he also considers himself to be a decent soccer player as well.

“People don’t really expect me to be good at soccer, but I was a pretty good soccer player,” Skalski told the AJC. “People don’t really see a 6-foot, 240 pound guy being good and with quick feet to be juggling and kicking the ball around…I pride myself on that.”

During his sophomore year, he played football and travel soccer during the same season. Skalski still plays soccer for Northgate, but he had to let go of his travel club to give his body some rest.

“I would play football games Friday night and then that morning I’d drive up to like South Carolina or down to Florida and play games all weekend,” Skalski said.

The dual-athlete tried to balance the two again his junior year, but it was still too much for him.

“I tried playing again… I finally just committed to just football to watch out for my body and keep myself healthy,” he said.

Choosing football proved beneficial as Skalski received offers from seven schools. He chose Clemson over South Carolina, closely followed by Ole Miss and North Carolina.

Skalski plans on visiting Death Valley for his first official visit in October to watch the Tigers play Notre Dame.

Here are a few things you should know about James Skalski:

1) Why did you commit so early? “I just wanted to focus on my season and on my personal gains. Just getting my body ready. I didn’t want to have that on my mind for my senior year. Out of all the offers I got, I didn’t feel like I was getting anymore. SEC schools kind of looked past me because they think I’m too short or too slow. (Clemson defensive coordinator Brent) Venables really liked me and believed in me, that I can be that kind of player. That’s just where I wanted to go and I wanted to commit and make up my mind.”

3) Have you met any other Clemson recruits? “Yeah, I’ve talked to a bunch of them like, Tre Lamar, Zerrick Cooper, Sean Pollard all them… I’m 100 percent wanting to go there, and I know (Lamar) is too. (I’m) just really excited to play with a guy of that caliber and I’m excited to see what we can do together.”

4) Do you have any relatives who played collegiate sports? “My dad grew up in Texas and played for Oklahoma for two years… and my sister (Brenna Skalski) is a D1 softball player at Georgia State.”

5) Who’s your favorite soccer team and why? “Manchester United. My neighbors and my best friends, we all grew up playing soccer together… Their dads are huge soccer fans and I grew up watching at their house… This coach named Sir Alex Ferguson is the coach there and I remember just watching them one day and they were just so good. I loved watching them play. The English Premier League, I just love watching that.”

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