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Gator pledge Hearns pondering OSU visit

10/6/2012
Derek Tyson/ESPN.com

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Judging by his game on Friday night you would never know that four-star linebacker James Hearns (Tallahassee, Fla./Lincoln) is coming off a severe ACL injury from last season.

The 6-foot-3, 226-pound inside linebacker accounted for two interceptions, including one he returned for a 48-yard touchdown in Lincoln's 45-7 victory over Gainesville (Fla.) Buchholz. Hearns actually had a third interception negated by a penalty early in the game.

Though he appeared to be the most dominant player on the field Friday night, Hearns said there are parts of his game he still needs to improve on.

"It was overall a good game," Hearns said. "I felt like I played a good game as far as pass coverage. My tackling could have been better, but that will come with practicing every day. Overall it was a pretty good game, not just by me but by my whole team."

As for recruiting, Hearns has been solidly committed to Florida since the day after signing day this past year. But now Hearns is entertaining interest from former Florida coach Urban Meyer, who is now at Ohio State.

"I'm thinking about taking an unofficial visit to Ohio State for the Michigan game," he said, "and then taking an official after the season, but I haven't set any dates and haven't set that for sure yet.

"Coach Meyer is good coach. He did his thing at Florida. He definitely had Florida as a top program. Ohio State is having a pretty good season, so it seems like he's a pretty good coach. Also coach [Tim] Hinton was recruiting me when he was at Notre Dame, so me and him already have a relationship. It's just something to kind of think about it."

Hearns, who is the No. 10-ranked inside linebacker in the country, said he has informed the Florida coaches of his decision to visit Ohio State. He specifically let Florida linebackers coach D.J. Durkin, who was in attendance at Hearns' game Friday, know of his intentions.

"I've talked to Coach Durkin and coach [Bryant] Young about it," Hearns said. "They told me that's fine because I'm trying to be open and honest with them and let them know every thing I'm doing. I don't want to do anything behind their back to upset them. I made it known to them, and they said that's fine. They said they don't have a problem with it, but just to remember them -- which of course I will because that's the team I've been with for a while."

Hearns, though, said he would still consider himself a solid commit to the Gators.

"Yeah I would say I'm solidly committed," Hearns said. "But I do want to hear what some people have to say. I definitely shut down my recruiting process early, so I kind of want to hear people out and see the opportunities they have to offer."

In addition to Ohio State, Hearns said he still hears from Louisville and UCLA, but has not set up any visits with either school.

Hearns will be in attendance at the Florida game against LSU on Saturday. The ESPN 300 linebacker says he is looking forward to watching a good game and seeing what the atmosphere will be like in the Swamp.

"I'm really looking forward to the atmosphere tomorrow," Hearns said. "Both times I've been to games they haven't been sold-out games, it's been Bowling Green and the spring game. I'm looking forward to seeing the turnout and the intensity of the team because this is a big matchup. I feel like they can come out and pull the upset if they come out with the right intensity."