James Ihedigbo played football at the University of Massachusetts Amherst from 2002-2006. After arriving in 2002, Ihedigbo redshirted his first year. In the following season, he started 10 of 12 games for UMass, picking off 4 passes, making a total of 74 tackles with 2 forced fumbles and was named the team's most improved defensive player. In 2004 James had 52 Tackles but no interception. In his third year at Massachusetts, Ihedigbo switched to strong safety from free safety and ranked sixth on the team in total tackles with 45. In his redshirt junior year, he was named to the Atlantic 10 conference third team and started at strong safety for a team which allowed the fewest points in all of Division I-AA football. He finished third in the conference in sacks with 7. 5. As a senior, he had 72 tackles, 5 quarterback sacks, 3 interception and 4 forced fumbles, he was a candidate for the Buck Buchanan Award and a Walter Camp All-American as well as a senior captain. He also received UMass team MVP for 2006.