ESTERO — As far as Estero High football coach Rich Dombroski is concerned, his quarterbacks wouldn't have thrown for nearly 5,000 yards the past two seasons, nor would Eric McFadden have gobbled up consecutive 1,000 yard rushing campaigns if not for offensive linemen like Brandon James.
"They didn't do it on their own," Dombroski said after James signed a letter-of-intent to play for Presbyterian College, a Football Championship Subdivision team in Clinton, S.C.
With his parents, coaches and a few teammates looking on, James signed early Wednesday afternoon during a brief ceremony in a conference room at Estero High.
James, who is interested in pursuing a criminal justice major and wants to work in law enforcement, said the small college town and Southern hospitality were key factors in his decision.
"I went there for a visit and I loved it," James said. "I felt it's a good fit for me. The coaches are great. They care about the team and they care about the school. I like that."
Presbyterian belongs to the Big South Conference. The Blue Hose's 2-9 record last year included losses to Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt. They are scheduled to meet Wake Forest, Ole Miss and North Carolina State in the coming years.
"That will be exciting to play those kind of teams," James said.
With a 6-foot-2, 270-pound frame, it's hard to imagine that James was ever "scrawny," which is how Dombroski remembers James as a freshman. That was before James tackled the weight room.
"He was one of five or six kids from this year's senior class that bought into the weight program," Dombroski said. "Brandon is a gym rat. He's a kid you have to kick out of the weight room, and it shows. He's one of the stronger kids on our team. He's filled out tremendously. He used his strength to his advantage this year. That's one of the reasons he played so well."
Estero used to get pushed around on the field and on the scoreboard, but that wasn't the case with James and company in the lineup.
"Brandon and Kyle Brown and David Vasquez. Those kids lived in the weight room. They're stronger. That's why we were successful this year," Dombroski said. "Brandon and those seniors that bought into it are the reason we went 8-3 this year."
"It was a great season," James said. "It was nice to go to the playoffs and change the course of this program. First year going to the playoffs in 11 years means a lot."
It also means a lot to Estero that the program is placing players in colleges. James' signing comes a year after Zach Culvahouse and Ryan Sides departed for Wittenberg University and Ohio Northern, respectively, and two years after Mo Farrah joined Florida Atlantic University.
"This shows the community that we do have the athletes at this school that can move on," Dombroski said. "This is great for this program that Brandon is going on to play college football. He had a great season for us. I know he's going to do well."
2013 NATIONAL SIGNING DAY
- Video: Signing Day: Naples High
- Video: Signing Day: Barron Collier
- Video: Signing Day: Immokalee High
- Video: National Signing Day: Brandon James
- Video: National Signing Day: Kendrick Mouton
- Video: National Signing Day: Ryan O'Rourke
- Photos: National Signing Day 2013 - Immokalee High School
- Photos: Estero and South Fort Myers football signing day 2013
- Prep football: Mackensie, Mackenro Alexander lead Immokalee's signing class
- Prep football: Barron Collier buddies Jake Berman, Mike Heuerman sign with UCF, Notre Dame
- Prep football: Estero's Brandon James signs with Presbyterian
- Prep football: Lely's L.J. Greenidge signs with Alcorn State
- Prep football: First Baptist's Corey Todd excited to walk on at Florida Atlantic
- Prep football: St. John Neumann's Mouton, O'Rourke headed to Navy, Ave Maria
- PrepZone: Gators cross country recruit Carlos Miranda leads Palmetto Ridge signing class
- Prep football: Manny Morgan leads pack of Golden Eagles heading to D-I programs
- Prep football: Wolfpack's Jayron Kearse inks with Clemson; others going D-I
- LIVE UPDATES: Local athletes take part in National Signing Day