TULSA — Tulsa Washington senior James Caligone has explosive quickness, sure hands and dynamic playmaking ability, an ideal set of tools for a cornerback.
With that, he knows exactly where he must focus his attention to take his game to the next level.
“It's the mental part of the game. I've got to get that down,” said the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Caligone, No. 25 on The Oklahoman's Super 30 recruiting list. “When I go to 7-on-7 or college camps, I'm always listening to coaches. I've learned a lot about the details of what to look at to be in the right position to make a play.
“I'm really focused on getting the mental part of the game down this summer.”
It's not an intelligence issue. Caligone is a smart football player. But after playing safety last season, he's learning the difference between being a good high school cornerback and a Division I prospect.
“What really stands out is his potential,” first-year Tulsa Washington head coach Marvin Dantzler said. “Physically and mentally, he has all the tools. We're just waiting for it to click.
“We're waiting on his maturity to kick in, and we've seen progression, so we're happy about that.”
Caligone has received recruiting interest from programs like Oklahoma State, Missouri, Texas Tech, Purdue, Kansas State and others, but has yet to receive any offers — a fact that he finds both frustrating and motivating.
“It's tough when you're at a camp and you're doing better than the guy in front of you, but he already has offers, so the coaches have to look at him first,” said Caligone, who has been clocked at 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash. “Then they'll tell me they're gonna look at me later. So I have to keep working hard so I'm ready when somebody comes in and says ‘We want you.'”
Caligone has always been a two-way player, and he'll do it again for the Hornets, who move up to Class 6A in the fall. Aside from his starting cornerback role, he'll get some time at running back.
“What he gives you is that wow factor,” Dantzler said. “He's the guy who can go 90 yards on a busted play.”
Yet Caligone knows his future is at cornerback.
“I'm not big, but I can be a physical corner. I like to jam guys and get in their face,” he said. “Moving over from safety, I feel like the coaches put me in the best position for myself and for the team.”
The Oklahoman's Super 30
The Oklahoman's Super 30 feature series on the state's top football recruits continues with No. 25, James Caligone of Tulsa Washington. Here are the players we've written about so far:
No. 25: James Caligone
School: Tulsa Washington
Weight: 180 pounds
Offers: None yet, but interest from Oklahoma State, Missouri, Texas Tech, Purdue, Kansas and Kansas State, among others.