AJ signs

Hermiston quarterback Andrew James signed his letter of intent Thursday to play football at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande.

With one swoosh of his pen, Andrew James officially joined the Eastern Oregon University football family on Thursday afternoon.

James, Hermiston High’s starting quarterback the past three seasons, joins a recruiting class of 24 for coach Tim Camp’s Mountaineers.

“I’m excited,” James said. “I knew this would happen one day or another. I will never forget this day.”

It will be a long time before Hermiston fans forget what James brought to the field.

“I am happy and proud,” Hermiston coach David Faaeteete said. “He’s ready to move on to his next journey. Our program wouldn’t be the same without him. He was a great leader and a great communicator. Credit to his parents, and coaches who have had the opportunity to coach him.”

James is the 10th player Faaeteete has coached over the past four years that has signed to play at the next level. James will join former Bulldogs Jonathan Hinkle (linebacker) and Joey Gutierrez (wide receiver) at EOU.

“They are doing it with their hard work,” Faaeteete said of his players moving on. “Our program gave them an opportunity to shine. I’m going to miss Andrew, he’s a good kid.”

James said he is looking forward to his next chapter of football.

“There are a lot of guys there I already know,” James said. “It will be some of the best years of my life.”

This past fall, Hermiston moved into the Mid-Columbia Conference with the Tri-City schools, and had its share of success, including a road win over defending 4A state champion Richland.

The 5-foot-10, 195-pound James threw for 1,391 yards and 12 touchdowns, and ran for another 753 yards and 12 touchdowns, finishing second in the MCC in total offense (2,144 yards).

His efforts earned him the East Oregonian All-Area Player of the Year honor for the second year in a row.

A shoulder injury in the first game of the season limited James’ passing, and took him off defense. His junior year, he threw for more than 2,300 yards and 29 touchdowns as the Bulldogs won the Oregon 5A title.

He will have shoulder surgery on March 5 in Portland, and will miss baseball season.

James isn’t sure when or where he will play at EOU, but he is not afraid to put in the work.

“I have gotten into a groove here,” he said of Hermiston. “I have to get out of that. I will have to grind to get a spot there. I’m not completely sure where I will play. I might move to slot or play defense. I just like to play football. I will play anywhere.”

James also got interest from Linfield, Whitworth, Oregon State and Western Oregon, but there were a couple of things that made Eastern his top choice.

His dad David, a Pendleton grad, played outside linebacker for the Mounties from 1980-81, and James believes EOU’s program is on the rise.

“They are coming back up,” he said. “They are getting close to a national championship.”

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