Top-150 LB Shemar James spurns in-state Alabama in favor of Gators

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports
New Gators pledge Shemar James on his official visit to Florida this weekend. The top-150 linebacker committed to UF on Sunday.

Florida's official visit weekend produced a pair of pledges Sunday, including top-150 overall prospect Shemar James. 

One of the top recruits in Alabama, James spurned the defending national champions in favor of the Gators. In-state schools Alabama and Auburn also hosted him on trips this month, though he named the Gators and Tide his two finalists. 

The four-star linebacker from Mobile (Faith Academy) was Florida's first commitment Sunday, followed by Orlando receiver Chandler Smith (Bishop Moore Catholic). Smith took official visits to Arkansas and South Carolina prior to UF and holds more than two dozen others, including Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia and Notre Dame. 

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound James also held offers from FSU, UGA, LSU, Miami and Texas A&M, among others. Florida linebackers coach Christian Robinson and assistant director of player personnel Chase Clark were both key in landing James, the No. 7 player in Alabama and No. 15 linebacker nationally, according to the 247Sports Composite.

Wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales served as the primary recruiter for the 6-foot-3, 180-pound Smith, who is rated a four-star recruit by Rivals. He won state titles in the 100-meter (10.28 seconds) and 200-meter (20.62) dashes as a junior.

The additions of James and Smith give the Gators eight verbal commits in their 2022 class, which now ranks 18th in the country.