The day his father first dropped him off at kindergarten perfectly sums up James Lachey.

Jim Lachey said his eldest son, now a senior on the Grandview Heights High School football team, walked away from the car but turned to his father and smiled before reaching the school door.

"(James) looked back at me and said, 'You know I'm only here because I want to play football,' " the former Ohio State and NFL offensive lineman said. "We always told him that he had to go to school to play football. It was his goal from a long time ago and now he will have the opportunity to play at the next level."

James has committed to play at Bowling Green. As a junior, the 6-foot-3, 240-pounder was first-team all-state in Division VI at defensive end and also was district Defensive Player of the Year and first-team all-MSL-Ohio Division.

Despite earning postseason defensive honors, he plans to play tight end with the Falcons.

"I see in lot of (recruiting) articles they have me listed with the defensive guys because they think I'm playing defensive end, but I'll be at tight end or wherever they want me on offense," said James, who had 63 tackles and 10 sacks last season. "I went to (Bowling Green's) camp, had a great camp and they offered me on the spot. I knew right then that those coaches had a lot of faith in me. It was (a Football Bowl Subdivision) school and I always wanted to play in the (Mid-American Conference).

"Coach Kevin Kilmer, the (co-)offensive coordinator, and (head) coach (Mike) Jinks are two great guys and they have a lot of faith that I could be a part of their offense. What we do here (at Grandview) is similar ... so I'm very excited."

James is definitely no slouch on offense. Last fall, he caught 12 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 280 yards and two scores on 24 carries.

"The combination of his size and speed is what sets James apart," said Grandview coach Jason Peters, who played offensive tackle at Bowling Green from 1990-94. "He's a big, strong, fast kid and there's not too many spots on the field where he wouldn't be a starter if he wanted to be. He could start at any offensive position that we have -- running back, wide receiver, tight end, H-back, anywhere on the line, anywhere at all.

"I had a coach once tell me that when you have a horse, you should ride them as much as possible. We have to find different ways to get (James) the ball because he'll make some plays that in the end will help us win the game."

Which side of the ball does James prefer? He doesn't really care.

"It really depends on the night and depends how I'm playing on either side of the ball," he said. "On defense, it's fun because I'm involved on every play, and on offense it really depends on the play. Overall I just love football and being able to have a chance to play both ways.

"Football has always been my favorite sport. I was 6-1 in the seventh grade and I was dropping 40-some points per game in basketball because I was so much bigger than everyone else. But football was always the game for me, especially with the family background."

James' father was an All-American offensive tackle at Ohio State and was drafted in the first round by the San Diego Chargers in 1985. He also played for the Los Angeles Raiders and won the Super Bowl in 1992 as a member of the Washington Redskins.

"I always tell (my sons) to have fun and be yourself (on the field)," said Jim, who now is an Ohio State football radio announcer and also has a sophomore son, Luke, playing for the Bobcats. "I never have scored a touchdown in my life. I just blocked for people ... even when I was young. (On Aug. 25 in a 30-28 win over Centennial) they both scored touchdowns in the same game. Both of them have surpassed me in that respect."

In the opener against Centennial, James rushed for 48 yards and a 1-yard touchdown on nine carries and had two receptions for 61 yards. He also had eight tackles, including two for loss, and one sack.

Luke caught five passes for 82 yards with scores of 23 and 24 yards.

"We played last year (in football) and (Luke) didn't play as much, but in basketball season we both started," James said. "It's a great feeling to be out there playing with my little 'bro.'

"It's fun going out there and seeing him make a big play and going over and giving him a big hug. When I make a big play, he's always the first person there, so it's great to know we have each other's backs."

On Sept. 1, James rushed for 119 yards and four touchdowns on 13 carries as the Bobcats defeated Africentric 44-14 to improve to 2-0. On Friday, Sept. 8, they play at home against North Union, which defeated Grandview 34-22 last season to begin a stretch in which the Bobcats lost three of four games.

"North Union was tough; they came out and punched us in the mouth and we thought we would be just as good as when we went to (a Division VI state semifinal in 2015)," James said. "They were better than we thought they would be and (the loss) was tough to take. It made us realize that you can't underestimate anyone, especially big country boys like that. You can't take anything for granted."

That includes getting a college football scholarship despite his lineage. James said he "worked my butt off" to get the offer from Bowling Green, which is roughly a two-hour drive from home.

It will give James a chance to step out of his father's shadow and make his own mark.

"I'm ready to start my own thing, do my own thing," he said. "I'll still be a Buckeye (football) fan and I'll still root for them, but I've got to do my own thing. I'm excited to play Bowling Green football."

shennen@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekHennen