Florida Gators and four-star recruit James Hearns part ways amid academic concerns

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp reacts during the third quarter of the Sugar Bowl against the Louisville Cardinals at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. (Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports)

Tallahassee native James Hearns was one of the very first high school stars to pledge his commitment to play for coach Will Muschamp and the Florida Gators. However, with only so much time remaining until National Signing Day on Feb. 6, the four-star recruit and the Gators have mutually decided to part ways, according to Blake Alderman of InsideTheGators.com.

At 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, Hearns had offers on the table from programs such as Alabama, LSU, Notre Dame and Florida State, among others. However, his chances of earning academic eligibility were slim, which was why there was little reason to bring him to Gainesville.

This development is expected to hinder any potential recruiting efforts for him over the next two weeks.

As for Florida, losing any four-star recruit is never ideal. However, the linebacker position is one of strength. Antonio Morrison saw significant time as a freshman and is expected to be a leader as a true sophomore in 2013.

Muschamp and his staff are bringing in four other linebackers in the recruiting cycle, including five-star Alex Anzalone (Wyomissing, PA), four-star Daniel McMillian (Jacksonville, FL), four-star Matt Rolin (Ashburn, VA) and three-star Jarrad Davis(Kingsland, GA).

This is definitely a loss for the Gators, but if Hearns cannot bring his talents to the next level — held back by grades — he will be far more worse for the wear than will Florida.

MORE UF: Seven Gators rank among the top 100 in the final Rivals recruiting rankings.