ORLANDO, Fla. -- With Florida coaches on hand to watch, Gators linebacker commit James Hearns (Tallahassee, Fla./Lincoln) did the Gator chomp as he was introduced before the FHSAA class 7A state championship game on Friday evening. Despite the gesture, Hearns said after the game he still plans to visit Ohio State on Jan. 11.
Hearns, who totaled five tackles in the 41-25 loss to Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas, said he was impressed that Florida sent coaches to watch him play.
"It felt good that they get a chance to come out to see me," Hearns said. "Especially being in bowl week. They actually moved up their bowl practice today just so they could get on the road and get here on time."
Hearns said his pre-game Gator chomp was to remind Florida fans and coaches that he's still committed to UF.
"I just wanted to rep the school I'm committed to," Hearns said. "A lot of people are going on about this Ohio State stuff. I am going to take a visit to Ohio State, but sometimes people forget that I am committed to the University of Florida. So I just had to remind them."
The four-star linebacker, though, still wants to see what Ohio State has to offer.
"After talking to the coaches, I like the coaching staff," Hearns said. "I've never been to Ohio, so I want to get a chance to see the campus. They got a good program, I just want a chance to [see] coach [Urban] Meyer and see what the program is all about."
Hearns insists distance won't play a factor in his recruitment.
"Growing up, when I first started getting recruited, my mom always told me that distance doesn't mean anything," he said. "She'll come see me play wherever I am."