WVU Sports Hall of Fame
Written by Shelly Poe
James Jett came to WVU on a football scholarship and left not only as a four-year starter at wide receiver but as a seven-time track All-American and Olympic gold medalist. The native of Shenandoah Junction in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle finished fifth at 100 meters in the U.S. Olympic Trials in New Orleans, earning him a spot on the 4x100 Olympic relay team.
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Jett ran the first two rounds of that race in Barcelona, then gave his spot in the finals to Carl Lewis; all team members earned a gold medal. The West Virginia state track athlete of the year in 1990, 1991 and 1992, Jett earned NCAA indoor and outdoor All-America honors at 50, 100 and 200 meters during his career and finished as NCAA runner-up at 100 and 200 meters in 1992.
The only true freshman to play on WVU’s 1989 Gator Bowl team, Jett over his four-year football career totaled 11 touchdown catches and 1,384 receiving yards, ranking him eighth among WVU career leaders at that time. His 78-yard TD catch from Darren Studstill in his last game against Louisiana Tech in 1992 set a then-stadium record. Also a return man, Jett finished with 3,076 career all-purpose yards, then fifth best in WVU history. He played in the Japan Bowl all-star game.
Signed as a free agent by the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, he has been a member of that team since 1993, playing in 140 professional games. His career totals include 256 catches, 4,417 yards (17.3 avg) and 30 scores; he is the eighth leading receiver in Raider history. Jett led the AFC with 12 touchdowns in 1997 and his longest career catch was an 84-yard touchdown vs. Atlanta in 2000. In 1996, he won the NFL Fastest Man competition and was a finalist in 1997.
Jett has two children, James Jr. and Jordan.