When a major program loses a key recruit, Rivals.com takes a look at how big of a blow it is to the respective school, analyzing it from a local and national level. To quantify the “sting” of each decommitment, we assign a score from one to 10, with one being no big deal and 10 being a catastrophic hit.
It was a massive pickup for the Gators from one of the best players in the country at a position of need. It worked out so well for Florida as it beat Alabama and others for the Mobile (Ala.) Faith Academy standout.
But exactly four months later, James has backed off his pledge to the Gators and reopened his recruitment with Alabama and Georgia as the biggest contenders to land James now.
Losing James hurts because he’s so talented and so versatile at the linebacker spot.
It particularly hurts Florida which needs to load up at the position and right now only has a commitment from high three-star EJ Lightsey from Fitzgerald, Ga., who was impressive on the Rivals Camp Series circuit this summer.
In a move that has been rumored for quite some time now, not many people should be surprised by the decommitment of Shemar James. However, when you lose the highest-ranked commit in your class and one of the top players at their position in the country it’s going to sting.
The Gators are in desperate need of athletic, playmaking linebackers to fly around in a defense that has struggled the past two seasons. James is exactly that and was a prospect that Florida worked really hard to steal out of the state of Alabama. His decommitment leaves Florida with just one linebacker in the class and a big hole to fill as it needs the quality and numbers. – Conner Clarke, GatorsTerritory.com
Sting factor: 9
There’s no getting around this one: It hurts. James has some of the best junior film in the country and he’s going to be in the conversation for five-star status because he’s a dominant force on any defense who runs sideline to sideline, hits like a truck and is really advanced at the position.
The only inside linebacker rated higher than James is Alabama commit Shawn Murphy but an easy argument could be made that James is already better and if both end up with the Crimson Tide that’s scary to consider. Adding in top weak-side defensive end Jeremiah Alexander, another player under five-star consideration, makes this even worse for Florida and any other team in the SEC. It looks like James is going to end up at Alabama or Georgia and that’s not great news for the Gators. – Adam Gorney, National Recruiting Director
Sting factor: 9