The Gators received a pleasant surprise Wednesday night when the former USC commitment, offensive guard James Wilson, switched his commitment to Florida. This weekend, Wilson was in Gainesville spending time with his future teammates and fellow Gator commitments.
Rarely does such a large quantity of high school talent grace the campus of a single university. Rarely is a majority of the talent on campus already committed to the hosting school. Deemed by some as “Gator Love Weekend”, the Florida coaching staff brought in some of their top committed players in their current class to not only become more acclimated to the environment in Gainesville, but to spend time with uncommitted players as well.
Less than a week ago, James Wilson looked to be one of the biggest uncommitted recruits that would be visiting this weekend. With Wilson coming in on a weekend with many Gator commitments attending and early enrollees already on campus, the Gator staff seemed equipped to put the full court press on Wilson.
However, the plan changed when Wilson publicly switched his commitment to the Gators on Wednesday night. After attending the National Championship celebration last weekend, Wilson decided to make the change. What once looked like a visit where the coaching staff would pull out all the stops to persuade Wilson to switch commitments, turned into a weekend which the staff could use to convince the five star offensive guard that he made the right choice.
“It was an awesome visit,” Wilson said. “I’m a little tired but I had a lot of fun. It just confirmed that I made a great choice. I got to know a bunch of the guys I’ll be playing with up there. I spent some time with the (Pouncey) twins and a lot of the other guys in our class. It’s already a great program, and we’re hoping to add to it and make it better.”
The 6-5, 305 pound guard got to catch up with his host and former high school teammate Tim Tebow for most of the weekend. This sense of familiarity made Wilson that much more excited about his future.
“I got in Friday night,” Wilson said. “We just ate dinner and hung out with some of the players around the town.”
“Saturday was breakfast and then the basketball game,” Wilson said. “I had a lot of fun there. Joakim (Noah) was getting really hyped like usual. It was such a great atmosphere. Then we hung out and got to see the night atmosphere of Gainesville.”
“Sunday was mostly academic stuff,” Wilson said. “It was good to see where they are academically. From what I could tell, they’re one of the top schools in nation. As long as you do your work and stay on top of things, you’ll be fine.”
One thing Wilson beamed about was the opportunity he had to talk with the Gator coaching staff. He obviously holds a high opinion of his future head coach, and loves to talk about his ability to understand and relate to his players.
“Coach Meyer says he likes how passionate I am about the game,” Wilson said. “He says I’m a hard worker, and he likes to get another player out of the Nease program. He really likes what Coach Howard is doing.”
With five other five star recruits visiting and one more already enrolled at Florida, Wilson got a chance to bond not only some of the top talent in the nation, but ones that he will be playing with for the next four years.
“I got to be close with Aaron Hernandez, Chris Rainey, and Torrey Davis,” Wilson said. “I got to hang out with all the Lakeland boys actually. We had a lot of fun. There was a noticeable family atmosphere with all the future Gators that were there.”
One of the main questions on the mind of Gator Nation is how the visit went for five star defensive end and Notre Dame commitment, Justin Trattou.
“I talked with Justin Trattou,” Wilson said. “He seemed to like it a lot from what I could tell. I’m really hoping that he switches, I know we really want him and I’d love for him to be a Gator.”
The Nease (St. Augustine, FL) high school product thought it was good to see Gainesville get another championship. After visiting for the Alabama game earlier this year and a few weekends in between, Wilson loves the transformation Gainesville has experienced, to now a city of dominance.
“We got that swagger back in Gainesville this year,” Wilson said. “Everyone is still on a high there; I could see that this weekend. Now it’s up to the basketball team to do their part.”
With Signing Day approaching shortly and only six months until Wilson enrolls at the University of Florida, he knows what he will bring to Gainesville.
“Gator fans should expect a hard worker from the moment I step on campus,” Wilson said. “I’ll be ready to get on the field and make some big plays to help this team win.”
While this weekend cemented James Wilson’s spot in this year’s recruiting class, it was nothing he had never seen. Playing high school football merely hours away from Gainesville, he had seen the campus and even football games plenty of times. But with the sense of comfort Wilson has developed in Gainesville, he now knows where his home will be for the next four years.