KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Miami Dolphins officials said several times on Friday that they had “targeted” Tennessee offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James for a long time.
The feeling was apparently mutual.
James said after his visit to Miami for a pre-draft interview, he knew he wanted to play for the Dolphins and he was overjoyed when the team selected him in the first round on Thursday.
“God definitely blessed me,” James said during a press conference in Miami. “He heard my prayers and answered them…I wanted to be a part of this team.”
James said he felt comfortable with the coaches, executives and players on the Dolphins — including former teammate Dallas Thomas, who he called one of his best friends.
James sidestepped questions about the Dolphins’ locker room drama from a year ago, when offensive lineman Richie Incognito was suspended for allegedly bullying teammate Jonathan Martin.
“That’s last year,” James said. “I’m comfortable with this environment.”
James said he based that on his “interaction with everyone on the coaching staff and everyone in the organization. Talking to some of the guys on the team, I just felt it was the right atmosphere.”
James also shrugged off a tweet from new teammate Mike Pouncey that seemed to make light of last year’s bullying scandal.
“It’s all part of the process of being a rookie,” James said.
James was a leader at Tennessee and one of the most media-friendly players at the team. He won his first press conference at Miami by displaying a similar charisma.
Asked if he expected to be a starter on opening day, he had a reply ready.
“I don’t expect anything,” he said. “I expect to come in and work hard. That’s how I was raised my whole life. You’ve got to earn what you’re given.”