In Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln's 20-17 victory over Seffner (Fla.) Armwood, sophomore linebacker James Hearns appeared to be all over the field. The outside linebacker racked up four tackles, including two tackles for loss, but his defensive presence was vital to the Trojans locking down a talented Armwood offense on their way to a state title.
For Hearns, the victory wasn't unexpected but he knew that he and his teammates had doubters.
"Sometimes being the underdog makes you play harder," Hearns said. "Nobody expected us to get here, but we did. We were doubted earlier in the playoffs and we just kept winning. We did what we had to do to win the state championship. Coach told us at the beginning of the season he believed this team could go to state and we did. We started off rocky but look at where we are now, we made it."
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound linebacker believes that the defensive mentality that was pivotal in their victory comes from the day-in, day-out approach of the Lincoln coaching staff.
"Our coaches are real hard on us, every day is contact, and they want us to be cutthroat and it is what had made our defense so good, " Hearns said. "We just trust our coaches and what they tell us and they put us in a good position."
While Hearns is just a sophomore, he is not unknown amongst the college ranks.
"I am hearing from a few schools," Hearns said. "Questionnaires or they have come to the school. A lot have shown some interest."
He talked about a few of the schools that are showing interest at this point.
"Florida State, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, Oregon, Florida, USF, Alabama - a lot of schools," Hearns said.
Unlike many prospects, Hearns doesn't intend to rush his recruitment. His focus this offseason is on becoming the best player he can possibly be.
"I am not worried about that," Hearns said. "I am worried about my game. I want to get a little bigger and stronger. The offers and stuff will come with hard work. This offseason I am going to concentrate on myself."