Late Saturday, Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln High School linebacker James Hearns, a Florida Gator commitment, tweeted that he was kicked out of the Florida State camp for doing the 'gator chomp' commonly done by fans of Florida.
I just got ejected for throwing up the gator chomp at Fsu camp— James Hearns (@JamesHearns21) June 16, 2012
The tweets set off a huge chain reaction of Twitter support from Florida fans and heckling from Florida State supporters, including Florida State offensive tackle Daniel Glauser.
Attempting to ascertain the full story, I asked Hearns if he was participating in FSU's big man camp or the 7-on-7 tournament. He replied that he was ejected from the 7-on-7 tournament.
@SBNRecruiting 7 on 7— James Hearns (@JamesHearns21) June 16, 2012
This heightened my suspicions, because ejecting a player can impact a team's performance and influence the outcome of the tournament.
After reaching out to some sources at the event, I got the full story.
Taunting is an ejectable offense in most 7-on-7 events, including the tournament hosted by Florida State.
And after returning an interception, Hearns and the opposing quarterback got into it. Hearns threw the chomp in the QB's face and was hit with a taunting flag, his second of the tournament. The second taunting penalty triggered the ejection.
Hearns told Zach Abolverdi of GatorSports.com that the quarterback instigated the altercation.
"I was running back an interception and the quarterback tagged me out of bounds," Hearns recalled. "Then I was just walking back to my side and he comes up in my face and says, ‘You suck, you suck.' I didn't really react too much to it. I just threw the chomp at him once and walked off. Then the ref threw the flag and they kicked me out of camp."
I asked if it was Florida State who tossed Hearns and was informed that the refs are not affiliated with the school, but rather paid officials who work a lot of 7-on-7 tournaments in the state.
This makes for a better headline than story, as it appears that Hearns would have been ejected for his actions during any tournament governed by these taunting rules.
Even without Hearns, Lincoln went on to easily win the tournament with a perfect 7-0 record.