Who could have imagined in looking at those absurdly talented Niagara Falls High School athletic teams circa 2004 that James Starks would be the one still plugging away at the highest level of his sport?
Starks was but a role player on those sensational Falls basketball teams. There was Paul Harris with his LeBron James body and Jonny Flynn with his dazzling backcourt skills. There was Greg Gamble, who would play at UB, and a sure-eyed bomber in Robert Harris. All were first-team All-WNYers. Flynn became the sixth overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft. None are still toiling at the top.
Starks? His prime milieu was the football field but even then the glamour proved elusive. He made first-team all-WNY at defensive back, ceding the quarterback position to St. Joe’s Naaman Roosevelt, his college teammate at UB who played 16 NFL games at receiver.
Starks lost his senior season at UB to a labral tear in the shoulder. He lasted until the 193rd pick of the NFL Draft. Yet he’s persevered, six NFL seasons behind him at running back, a Super Bowl ring on his finger and a new two-year deal with the Green Bay Packers in his hand.