July 31, 2006

Wilson decision coming Tuesday

Rivals100 offensive guard James Wilson is set to announce his decision at 3 p.m. Tuesday at a local restaurant in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., near his school.

For the last month, the 6-foot-3, 315-pounder from Saint Augustine (Fla.) Nease has been the subject of a Trans-American recruiting battle between two of the nation's most storied programs, Notre Dame and Southern California.

Tuesday, Wilson will make his pick between the Fighting Irish and Trojans.

Being from the same high school as Class of 2006 super recruit Tim Tebow, it was easy for most to speculate that Wilson would end up following his former quarterback to The Swamp to play for the Florida Gators. Many who followed the Florida program closely felt like Wilson would stay close to home and wear the Orange & Blue during his college playing days.

Therefore, it came as a surprise to many when on June 22, Wilson announced he was down to USC and Notre Dame.

"I'm not really a Florida boy," Wilson told GatorBait.Net. "I wasn't born here and I've only lived here for about three years now. I think I would feel more comfortable outside of the state. Timmy (Tebow) was a reason I was looking at Florida, I haven't had a chance to talk to him but he knew that I was going to do what was best for me in the long run."

The Gators have continued to recruit Wilson hard, but don't expect Wilson to pull his shocker and go with the local team today.

Wilson has a family connection to the Los Angeles area. His father, also named James, lives one hour north of L.A. in Santa Clarita, Calif. Should the younger Wilson pick the Trojans today, his father's proximity to campus and a two-week trip to the West Coast in July can be seen as determining factors.

"My father being so close would be a factor," Wilson said.

During that July trip, Wilson participated in USC's prospect camp where he put on a stellar showing. The athletic, agile guard showed off his tremendous strength and tenacity during the camp and was one of the better performers there.

Wilson, who is an excellent student, also got the opportunity to learn more about the academic side of the University of Southern California. He came away impressed by the business school at USC.

At this moment, it is safe to call the Trojans the favorite to get a commitment from Wilson Tuesday, but that doesn't mean it's a done deal.

The Trojans are looking for offensive linemen in this class and landing Wilson would give them a big, athletic guard that fits into their system.

Shortly after Wilson eliminated Florida and before his trip to Southern California, Notre Dame emerged as the team to beat for Wilson.

Wilson had an outstanding trip to South Bend, Ind., for a prospect camp, where he bonded with the Fighting Irish coaching staff, including offensive line coach John Latina and head coach Charlie Weis. It was this trip that helped Wilson eliminate Florida and narrow his list to two.

Wilson also was impressed by Notre Dame's campus, the town of South Bend, Ind., and the academics of the university.

I had an awesome time," Wilson told IrishIllustrated.com. "I was overwhelmed by how beautiful the campus was. I got to go and check out the academic support building and the new Guglielmino facility; that was awesome."

While the Fighting Irish aren't to be called the favorites here, they certainly are in this and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Wilson chose Notre Dame on Tuesday.

Whichever of the two programs emerge with Wilson's commitment today, it will be getting one of the nation's premier offensive line prospects. Wilson is likely the most athletic offensive lineman in the country and is developed enough to play early wherever he goes.

Another thing to consider is that for both of these programs, or any program for that matter, it's always good to pull one of Florida's top prospects (he is No. 5 in the Rivals.com Florida Top 100) given the amount of high-end talent produced in that state every year.

Wilson is the nation's No. 2 offensive guard prospect.

Stay tuned to Rivals.com on Tuesday for complete coverage of Wilson's decision.

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