The Florida Gators doubled up on 2013 linebackers Thursday, receiving a commitment from James Hearns (Tallahassee, FL) just over an hour after it was announced that Daniel McMillian (Jacksonville, FL) pledged to join the Gators.
Another player who took part in Florida’s Junior Day last weekend, Hearns is the second Lincoln High School player to commit to the Gators in as many days. His teammate and three-star wide receiver Raphael Andrades (Tallahassee, FL) was a surprise addition to Florida’s 2012 signing class on Wednesday.
At 6’3” and 230 lbs., Hearns was one of two Lincoln players – the other being WR Reggie Davis (Tallahassee, FL) – to visit the Gators last weekend. Both took a number of tours and met with the coaching staff, which told Hearns they were fond of his athleticism but wanted to look over his film early in the week after he missed most of the 2011 season due to a knee injury.
“He always liked Florida. He always liked 3-4 teams like Florida and Alabama,” former UF receiver and Lincoln’s offensive coordinator Jacquez Green told OGGOA. “When I took him down to Junior Day Saturday, he got a chance to really see [Will] Muschamp, and he sat with Coach [D.J.] Durkin at the game and got a chance to talk to him.
“It was the one-on-ones, the attention he got and the fact that Florida is down and [he and Andrades] feel they can help get Florida back up to where it used to be.”
Like McMillian who also committed Thursday, Hearns has an impressive offer list with Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Notre Dame, South Carolina and Tennessee as some of the standout schools.
Read the rest of this story and watch a highlight tape of Hearns after the break.
“They told me they really liked my highlight tape,” Hearns told InsidetheGators.com after the visit. “They really liked my size and not just that but how physical I play and the passion I play with when I’m on the field. We just talked about thing like that.
“At our school our coaches give us the true understanding of what a commitment is. When you commit to something, there’s no going back on your word. This is done so right now I can focus on my team and me. I want to help make the team the best it can be and make myself the best player I can be.
He will likely be looked at as a Sam or Will linebacker for the Gators, which are putting a premium on the position after only signing three linebackers in the past two cycles.
“Hearns is big, he’s physical, he’s a great linebacker to play in a 3-4 scheme,” Green explained. “He started as a true freshman, which is hard to do at Lincoln. He played outside linebacker his first two years. Last year he played inside linebacker, but he’s played and can play all four positions. We run the 3-4 basically like Florida on defense.”
Though Hearns is not yet rated by either Rivals or ESPNU, he is expected to receive a four-star grade when the first official rankings are revealed. He is Florida’s fourth 2013 commitment joining ESPNU-ranked four-star McMillian, five-star defensive tackle Caleb Brantley (Crescent City, FL) and four-star running back Adam Lane (Winter Haven, FL). McMillian, Brantley and Lane are ESPNU 150 watch list players.
Hearns’s commitment was first reported by Gator Country’s Andrew Spivey.