James was recruited out of Florida's Immokalee High School by the University of Miami. He proved to be one of the most successful running backs in the school's history.
James ranked second in all-time University of Miami rushing yards. He was the only running back in the university's history to post two consecutive seasons with 1000-plus rushing yards, and he ranks first in school history with the most 100-plus rushing games. He also holds the University of Miami record for most rushing touchdowns in a season. All single season records held by James have since been broken by former Miami and current Buffalo Bills running back Willis McGahee in 2002.
James was included in a September 2006 FHM article about the success of University of Miami alumni in the NFL, titled: "University of Miami Hit Squad. The Hurricanes are Taking Over the NFL. Deal with It."
In the article, James said: "We have a little slogan at UM. When you leave the locker room, you say you're going to "hit, stick and bust dick. Then what else? Talk shit."