James Hearns, a top outside linebacker/defensive end recruit in the 2013 class, has committed to the Florida Gators, according to Gator Country. Hearns stars for Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln High School. Hearns also holds offers from Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU, Miami, Notre Dame, South Carolina and Tennessee. The few services that have rated prospects in the 2013 class rate Hearns as a four-star recruit.
Hearns is 6'3" and 235. He's an interesting prospect in that his position in college is uncertain. Some think he will play defensive end, others outside linebacker, and other still place him at middle linebacker. At Florida, he will likely play the "buck" linebacker position -- a hybrid between weak-side defensive end and outside linebacker, playing in both a two and three-point stance. It's also entirely possible that he will grow into a strong-side defensive end.
Hearns lacks elite speed, but does have excellent power. He'll need to develop more pass-rush moves if he plays defensive end, but this is off to a good start.
Hearns is the second top 2013 defensive prospect of the day to commit to Florida, joining Daniel McMillian. And like McMillian, Hearns plays for a school that has traditionally been a pipeline for the rival Florida State Seminoles. Although it is worth noting that Florida State has not signed a player from Lincoln High School since 2008, mostly because of a lack of elite talent.
In 2013, however, Lincoln is loaded with top prospects. And Wednesday, Florida surprisingly signed Raphael Andrades, a lightly recrutied 2012 receiver prospect. That is not to say that Andrades lacks the talent to play at Florida. But taking Andrades certainly didn't hurt UF's relationship with the Lincoln coaching staff.
Hearns is the fourth commitment of the 2013 class for the Gators, joining McMillian, defensive tackle Caleb Brantley and running back Adam Lane.
For more on Hearns and Florida recruiting, visit Alligator Army.