Family atmosphere lands Houston in the Florida Gators class

The Florida Gators landed commitment number 11 on Friday night when linebacker James Houston (6-1, 225, Plantation, FL. American Heritage) pledged to Florida.

Houston, who just recently tore his ACL, has visited the Gators a lot in the past and he feels he made the right decision for himself with Florida.

“I feel like in my position right now, it was the best decision for me and my family,” Houston said on why he committed. “It’s close to home; with my knee I can come here for rehab after the season. The education is great too, top in the country.”

The Gators were working hard on Houston to get him in the class, but the linebacker says they didn’t have to do too much to get him.

“I kind of had my mind set, so they didn’t have to do much,” he said on why he committed now. “Florida just really feels like home and the education is great. Everything just kind of fit.”

When Houston told the coaching staff of his decision on Friday night, he received a lot of congratulations and hugs he says.

“Everyone was just welcoming me with loving arms,” Houston said on the reaction from coaches. “They were all very happy.”

Linebackers coach Randy Shannon has been working Houston lately and he has explained where the linebacker can play when he gets to Florida.

“He sees me fitting in well, he sees me playing all three of those [linebacker] positions,” he said of Shannon’s message. “He said that I’m a versatile linebacker. He has coached all of the linebacker greats so he can teach me something.”

Head coach Jim McElwain greeted Houston when he arrived on Friday night and he also spoke to the linebacker about needing him in Gainesville.

“Coach McElwain was just really expressing to me that he wanted me at Florida,” Houston said. “He didn’t really say much about on the field, but he was surprised and welcomed me with open arms.”

When Houston tore his knee up a few weeks ago things could have changed for him in his recruitment, but he says schools still contacted him.

“A lot of colleges stayed on me after the ACL injury,” he said. “I tore it about two weeks ago when I was running a route at tight end in 7-on-7. The ball was thrown behind me and I hyper extended my knee.”

Houston had to share the news with Florida but he says the Gators coaching staff took the news well.

“They just kind of told me that it didn’t change their opinion of me,” Houston said. “They said they knew I was going to come back stronger and faster than before. They still believed in me and my ability.”

INSIDERS TAKE: Houston says he’s a hard commit and that he plans to work on some of his teammates to commit from his school. The linebacker was very upbeat and positive about his injury despite him missing his senior year.

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Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.