By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Eagles fans will have a lot of new names to learn when the team opens up in July. Free agency begun the turnover of an Eagles roster that went 12 and 20 over the last two seasons, and the draft should continue that process.
One of the first additions is former Texans tight end and fullback, James Casey. If his first interviews are any indication, he’ll be one of the guys that people remember.
Though Casey comes to the Eagles listed as both a tight end and a fullback, that’s a light load compared to what he did in college, where he once played seven different positions in one game.
“Yeah, back when I was at Rice, I was fortunate enough to get a lot of opportunities,” Casey told Angelo Cataldi and the 94WIP Morning Show on Friday. “The coaches let me do a lot of different things. I played all over the place on offense. I played a lot of quarterback, running back, receiver, some tight end. In one game, the game you are referring to, I played defense also against Southern Miss and we played them on a Wednesday night game. I played some defensive end, so I played both ways for a little bit that game.”
Though defense might be out of the question now, Casey doesn’t care too much what he’s listed as, or what position he plays, as long as he’s out there.
“At this point in my career, now that I’ve played four years in the NFL with Houston, I’m comfortable doing anything offensively and going back to my days in college I’ve lined up at every position—every skill position offensively,” he said. “I’ve done it so much now at each position, at fullback or at tight end, or even lining up out-wide or in the backfield. I’m comfortable with anything as long as I get on the field and have opportunity. That’s really my only concern now, is just getting on the field and trying to help the Eagles in whatever way I can, whatever position that is.”
Casey didn’t just play football either, he was a standout on the diamond as well.
“I was drafted out of a high school in the 7th round as a pitcher,” he said. “I played pitcher and shortstop in high school, but I was drafted as a pitcher just because I threw really hard, but I was a right-handed pitcher. So I went straight out of a high school and played in the minor-leagues, and didn’t ever get really high. I just got to like high rookie ball, but I played three or four years in the minor leagues, just never really had good control. I always threw really hard, but I couldn’t get the command down. Yeah, I would touch 95 [MPH], but I would throw probably around 90-93 [MPH] on average, but I would touch 93 every now and then.”
It wasn’t just on the field that Casey was diverse while he was in college, it was in the classroom as well.
“I had three majors and a minor at Rice. It was economics, managerial studies, and sports management, and then I minored in business,” he said. “I don’t really know why I did that, I just kind of kept adding classes and adding classes. I never dropped any classes because I always thought that once I got into them I always thought I could pass them. I took a lot of classes and I only played at Rice for two years, my true Freshman and true Sophomore year, then I came back after my rookie and my second year with the Texas, to finish.”
Part of his desire to contribute, and doing anything to do so, probably comes from how Casey grew up. Very poor, Casey spent time living in a trailer as a teenager.
” I don’t talk about that too much because I know there’s a lot of people that grow up with not a lot of money and I don’t want to try to use it as an excuse or a crutch, or anything like that,” he said. “When I was 16 I was living in a trailer in Avril, where I’m from, in the Fort Worth, Texas area and I was at school when the trailer that I was living in burned down and my mom was inside. So I lost my mother, and literally lost everything I had besides what I was wearing that day. Obviously, that’s a really tough and tragic deal to go through in high school being 16, but I finally just came to the realization that my mom wouldn’t have wanted me to just feel sorry for myself and mope around all day and just use that an excuse to not make something of myself. She would have wanted me to go on and make her proud and to become really successful. I was already a pretty motivated kid to begin with, but after that I was extremely motivated. I ended up doing really well in high school and in sports, and in my grades. I finished 12th in my class in high school, and that was what gave me the opportunity to go to Rice [University] later on after the baseball didn’t work out. To this day, I still just stay motivated to try to achieve everything that I possibly can.”
His first time as a free-agent, Casey said he was excited that there were so many teams interested in his services. One of the things that made him choose the Eagles, was the new coach.
“I was very impressed with the way [Chip Kelly] talked. He was a really, really smart guy. Just from talking to him for a little bit, it motivated me, it fired you up. You know he’s here to win and everything he does is with a purpose. I’m really excited about the offense that I’m going to get to see going into it, I guess April 1st we start working out as a team.”