In the end it was the people that turned James Wilson from a Trojan to a Gator. The soft spoken but ultra talented offensive lineman changed his pledge from USC to Florida this week as the Gators continue to bask in the light of a National Championship. The five-star lineman from Ponte Vedra Nease will be familiar with a bunch of Gators when he shows up on campus.
The rumors started leaking from California when Wilson told the USC coaches that his heart was in Gainesville and not on the left coast. When Gator Country called to confirm the rumor, Wilson was ready to let it out: "Yeah, I am a Gator now."
"I committed to Florida on Monday," said Wilson. "I told the USC staff today. They took it well and were very gracious and understanding. They were sorry it happened and wished me the best. They knew I had to do what was best for me."
For Wilson it is less about football and more about the people. His friends and family are near Gainesville and he has come to realize that after more than a handful of visits to the medium sized community in north central Florida.
Wilson also started to second guess his decision to Southern Cal while in Texas for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. There he realized that distance was important to him and that he may become a little homesick across country in L.A.
"I just really looked back and USC is a great place," Wilson said. "I just really know that as a player and with all the people around here in Florida I have had so much fun for four years and I want to continue that. It should be just like high school -- a lot of Nease kids go to Florida and it will be awesome."
One of his former teammates and best friends played a significant role for the Gators as a true freshman. Quarterback Tim Tebow went to Nease where he won a state championship and set all kinds of state records. Wilson said having Tebow and others like him at Florida is why he chose the Gators.
"It was a huge impact," he said about Tebow. "Mr. Tebow (Tim's father) has been my pastor for four years. With the problems I have had, he has helped me become a man. Timmy is one of my best friends and he is ecstatic and I am really excited. It was just the fact that these are my people."
There was also this little thing called a National Championship that had a buzz going on inside Wilson's head. Wilson attended the celebration this past weekend and on Monday told the Florida staff he was going to be a Gator.
"To see what they are doing, to see Florida come out swinging like that was awesome. Florida winning the title helped. I mean I had to realize what is going on there (in Gainesville). It's going to be pretty special," added Wilson. "Then, Timmy is there and we talk about every other day. He has been my best friend since I was a freshman. The coaches at Florida are awesome and I love the players there too. It was a hard decision but one I felt was right for me. I just have too many friends and family here in Florida."
The Gators are swinging on the recruiting trail also and this shouldn't be the end of the surprises for the National Champs who also have Scout.com's current number one recruiting class.