James Hamilton is a standout lineman from the greater Orlando area. He is widely considered a top-100 recruit in the state, and most expected him to be picked up as an offensive guard.
That changed when he participated in Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher's camp this summer and played well as a defensive tackle, likely a nose guard.
The 6-3, 330-pound senior showed plus mobility and athleticism at camp and earned his first Big 3 offer. He immediately accepted that offer, and FSU had its second defensive tackle commit in the class. He has natural size that is hard to find at the prep level and is a long-time starter for a good program.
Even with his commitment, we at NoleDigest.com were skeptical of it sticking from the get go. His cousin, Corian Hamilton, inked with South Florida a year ago, so the Bulls were always in the picture. Hamilton is also a self-professed Miami fan, and there was always a chance that the 'Canes could step up and go after him.
One thing in FSU's favor was that it was one of the schools recruiting him for defensive tackle instead of offensive guard. USF made it well known it liked him at guard. And why not? That offensive line is abysmal. Hamilton had made several trips to Tampa while still an FSU commit, and it seems that a weekend visit closed the deal. He went back to USF early this week with his mother and made the switch.
Of course, USF is now recruiting him at defensive tackle (wink wink).
The impact on FSU's class is minimal. Hamilton was the third defensive tackle in the class, and, as mentioned, the vast majority of schools like him on the offensive line.
More troublesome is that Justin Shanks is seeing the Alabama schools turn up the heat, and his verbal is now shaky at best. The loss of two D-tackles would certainly make the Eddie Goldman recruitment that much more important.
We are fans of Hamilton and clearly think he could have been part of the future, but he is not irreplaceable and FSU has plenty of options out there. It will be interesting to see if a replacement along the D-line is even considered after landing Timmy Jernigan, Nile Lawrence-Stample and Derrick Mitchell a year ago -- the position is already loaded. 2012 commitment Dalvon Stuckey is as hard-core FSU as any player in the last 20 years.
We do not think Hamilton's de-commitment has to do with Florida State's slow start on the field. USF, after all, is 0-3 in the Big East. This simply has to do with the closeness of the campus and the comfort with guys he grew up with currently on the Bulls.
At the end of the day, this is recruiting in the year 2011, and let's hope this is the one player that the odds say goes in a different direction.