Detroit Lions linebacker James Houston IV returned to Jackson State University to host a free football camp on campus and took the time to speak about his experience playing for the Tigers under Deion Sanders. Per comments obtained by WAPT, the experience was life-changing.

“Man, it means the world to me, man, just to be tied to this university. It's so much history, so much legacy. It's just, it's so much man and it's like it's not enough for me to even unpack. And so I'm just so glad that I'm tied to this university. I'm so glad that this university wants to be tied to me. And so I'm gonna continue to push Jackson State as hard as I can whenever I can.”

Houston began his college football career at the University of Florida in 2017 as a redshirt. He then proceeded to be a productive defensive player for the team, finishing his career with the Gators with 103 total tackles (52 solo), 4.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles. He then made the move to Jackson State to play for Deion Sanders in Sanders's first full season as coach.

His impact was immediately felt for the Tigers, as he put up monster numbers that aided him him being selected by the Detroit Lions in the 2022 NFL Draft. Houston finished the 2021 season with 70 total tackles, 52 solo tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss, 16.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one interception. His play helped the Tigers go undefeated in the SWAC and clinch a birth in the Celebration Bowl.

The 2021 SWAC Championship against Prairie View A&M  in Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium is one that Houston still finds memorable, per comments obtained by WAPT.

“The Vet was packed up man all the way and it was just, it was a special feeling, man. I don't think I've ever been in a game like that or felt a game like that. Um, I played in probably one of the best,  environments of college football in The Swamp and The Vet honestly is right, is right there, man. It's right there when it's packed up and it's going, man, it's, it's right there next to The Swamp.”

Houston is in his third season with the Detroit Lions, following a remarkable season where they came close to reaching the Super Bowl. He joined Detroit in Week 12 of the 2022 season and played a key role in their 28-25 win against the Buffalo Bills, sacking quarterback Josh Allen twice and recovering a fumble.

Houston led all NFL rookies in sacks with 8 going into the final week. Despite playing fewer games than the second-overall draft pick Aiden Hutchinson, who recorded 9.5 sacks in 17 games, Houston showcased his prowess by tallying eight sacks in just seven games. There were high expectations for Houston to turn in to a defensive star for the surging Lions, but he dealt with a fractured anle and missed the majority of the season.