Texas lineman heals from accident, learns from it

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Tuesday, May 27, 2014
James Lockhart
James Lockhart

Defensive end James Lockhart IV, a major Arkansas target, turned a near tragedy into a positive, life-changing experience.

Lockhart, 6-4, 253 pounds, of Ennis, Texas, has 24 scholarship offers from schools like Arkansas, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Ole Miss. He's rated the No. 14 defensive end and the No. 82 overall prospect in the nation by ESPN.

But football took a backseat for Lockheart on Oct. 23.

He was driving to school on a gravel road when he swerved to avoid a cat that had darted out in front of him.

"I started fishtailing one side to another," Lockhart said. "I thought I had it, but I was wrong and I did like a 180 and hit a few trees."

He suffered a deep gash on his head along with several other injuries.

"I had to get 23 staples, and I had eight fractured teeth," Lockhart said. "You could see my skull.

"I had a concussion and half my ear was hanging off. It happened a day before my football game. I was very fortunate I was alive."

Lockhart said he was being careless with his safety.

"I was being foolish in that I wasn't wearing a seat belt," he said. "I learned a lot from that whole experience. It was definitely a blessing to see another day."

Lockhart said he believes the accident was a wake-up call.

"It taught me to be a better person and never settle for less and be thankful for what you have," he said. "You can be here today and gone tomorrow. I'm so thankful I got a another chance in life."

Lockhart missed two games because of the accident but still recorded 122 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 21 quarterback hurries and 3 forced fumbles. He returned for the Nov. 6 game against Waxahachie.

"I came back in two weeks. It was by the grace of God," Lockhart said. "I had a chance to come back. Some people thought I came back too soon. Some people thought it was a miracle. Some people thought I should've been out the rest of the season.

"At the time, I had a very good relationship with God. I feel like it made my relationship stronger. It built up my work ethic in what I do. Not just in football, but everything. It made me not be a procrastinator."

Arkansas receivers coach Michael Smith and defensive line coach Rory Segrest are recruiting Lockhart, who plans to visit the Hogs on June 21.

"For whatever reason, I can't get there June 21st. I'll definitely be there in July," Lockhart said.

Lineman ineligible

Offensive lineman Jovan Pruitt, who signed with Arkansas in February, will have to go to junior college after failing to qualify academically.

Dallas Bishop Dunne Coach Michael Johnson said Pruitt will attend Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas, with plans to return to Fayetteville.

"He definitely wants to stay with his commitment to Arkansas," Johnson said. "They have him in a system where he'll be able to graduate in 18 months and from there he's going to go back to Arkansas."

Johnson said Pruitt's relationship with Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman is strong.

"I know he loves his relationship with Coach Pittman," Johnson said. "That's something he really likes about Arkansas."

Pruitt was close to being qualified to enroll at Arkansas.

"He tried real hard and he got it close," Johnson said. "He knows what he has to do and he's going to play big ball here pretty soon."

E-mail Richard Davenport at

Sports on 05/27/2014