ELF: Wroclaw Panthers re-sign top defensive back William James

The Wroclaw Panthers of the European League of Football have re-signed one of the stalwarts of their defense in Swedish defensive back William James. 

In five games with the Panthers last season after the the folding of the Leipzig Kings, the savvy veteran recorded 29 tackles and two interceptions playing at the safety position. He was a key factor on a defense that allowed just 11.4 points a game for the final five games of the regular season helping the Panthers win four of the last five games making the playoffs for the second time in three years.

The 32-year-old, 5’11”, 195-pound defender was one of the ELF’s best defenders for the Leipzig Kings in 2022 recording 97 tackles to finish fifth in the league. On top of that he added five interceptions (tied for second), eight pass break ups, one fumble recovery, and one blocked kick.

He was drafted 31st overall by the Montreal Alouettes in the 2021 CFL Global Draft following an impressive combine showing and years of production at the European level. However, James did not make the final roster in Montreal.

Following his release, James quickly joined the Ancona Dolphins of the Italian Football League, before signing with the Wroclaw Panthers for three games following the end of the season in Italy. In three games, James made 22 tackles, one tackle for a loss, and two pass break ups in his first stint in Poland.

The well-traveled Swede had most recently played in Europe prior to that in 2020, suiting up for the Helsinki Wolverines and Uppsala 86ers, earning AFI All-Pandemic honors for his play. The year before, the hard-hitting safety was playing rugby and working with racehorses in Australia.

From 2016 to 2018, James was a key fixture in the defensive secondary for the Dresden Monarchs in the German Football League, amassing a total of 313 tackles in three seasons. He began his football career with the Arlanda Jets in his home country of Sweden before deciding in 2011 that he wanted to give college football a try in the United States. He sent out letters to schools and the University of North Dakota allowed him to walk on. After two years he had earned a scholarship. James, who finished his career with the Fighting Hawks with a total of 103 tackles, started at safety off and on in the final two years of his career finally finding a more permanent spot on the team in his senior season.

Read more about James’s unconventional football path here

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