This is the sixth profile in the Gator Prospectus series covering Florida’s 2013 in-state commits.
Name: James Hearns
Committed: February 2
School: Tallahassee Lincoln
Height/Weight: 6-foot-3, 228 pounds
Scouting Report: Although Hearns has lost over 15 pounds since the season started, he’s still the most physically-ready linebacker in Florida’s 2013 class. Can hold his own in the trenches and push incoming blockers backwards to blow up run plays. Most of that comes from sheer strength, and Hearns needs to develop better hand placement and extension because he won’t be able to overpower blockers as easily in college. Will likely line up at inside linebacker for UF, but the former basketball player has the athleticism and lateral agility to be effective on the edge. His pass coverage is impressive for his size and he would make a great spy given how well he watches the quarterback’s eyes. Still needs to play with more flexibility and improve his pad level when tackling. Appears to be fully healed from his ACL injury last year and no longer wears a brace on his knee.
For The Game: Hearns headed to his future college home on Friday to take on Buchholz at Citizens Field in Gainesville. With Florida linebacker coach D.J. Durkin in attendance, Hearns gave him something to look forward to. In a 45-7 victory, he had six tackles and a career-high two interceptions — one of which he returned for a 48-yard touchdown — in three quarters of play. He also had pick on the first play of the game, but it was negated by a penalty.
Video: Click HERE for my interview with Hearns after the game.
Quotable: “First of all, James understands football. A lot of times you have athletes that are big and can run, but they don’t understand the game. I think that’s the best thing about him. He understands where to be. He’s also a big, physical guy that doesn’t shy away from contact. And like you saw tonight, he does a great job in pass coverage. Usually most like linebackers coming out of high school are so dominant they really aren’t asked to defend the pass. But we have a zone-blitz scheme, so he understands checks, adjustments, fitting, replacing and rolling in coverage. All those things. So I think he’s going to do a great job coming out of high school as far as understanding the passing game. The Gators are going to very be pleased with what they get in his skill-set. The sky is really the limit for him.” — Tallahassee Lincoln coach Yusuf Shakir
Notable: Currently 80-90 percent committed; will officially visit Florida and Ohio State; camped at UF this past summer; ranked No. 10 positionally and No. 278 overall by ESPN, ranked No. 7 positionally and No. 183 overall by Rivals.
Up next week on the Gator Prospectus — UF receiver commit Chris Thompson.