PLANT CITY – James Gordon IV is thriving for the Raiders.
The rising junior got his feet wet in what he called the “freshman groove” playing wide receiver and safety, adding 51 tackles and two sacks. This past season, he excelled lining up exclusively at linebacker, posting 74 tackles and three sacks.
At 6’1″, 220 lbs., he’s added 25 pounds since the end of his sophomore campaign.
Gordon IV says he learned the plays fully last year.
“I can pick them apart and when I drop back I can react,” Gordon IV told Prep Sports Scouting. “I can break down better and move faster. I like linebacker, the contact and hitting.”
He pointed to his ability to come downhill, react to the ball and excel in coverage as his biggest strengths.
Gordon IV is aiming to improve his work sideline to sideline and maintain control in his body.
He currently has nine Division I offers. The list includes East Carolina, USF, Iowa State, Cincinnati, Bowling Green, Purdue, Temple, North Carolina and Western Kentucky.
Gordon IV said North Carolina, Iowa State and USF are contacting him the most.
Starting his football career at age 5, he was originally a defensive lineman and running back. He played linebacker three years during the little league.
James Booth has taken over the sidelines at Plant City after Robert Paxia stepped down earlier this off-season. Gordon IV says he likes what he sees.
“It’s been good so far. I’ve been seen a lot of change,” he said. “I’m buying into his coaching staff and our new defense.”
The Raiders open the season up hosting Hillsborough on Sept. 1. Gordon IV is going to tell his group to not play scared.
“If you are scared, stay in the locker room,” he said. “We are trying to prove everybody wrong.”
With two years left in high school, Gordon IV thinks about the big picture a lot.
“I’m trying to get to the next level and make my parents happy,” he said. “Then hopefully that works out and I make it to the NFL. If it doesn’t work out, I want to be a sports trainer.”
His cousin Jyquis Thomas, 2014 graduate from Plant City is currently playing at Temple as a defensive back.
Gordon IV is on the fast track to a high Division I program. He has sound technique and his strength helps him wrap up lengthy receivers and tight ends. Look for him to have a stellar junior season. This is just the start of a successful football career for Gordon IV.
Favorite players to watch – Todd Gurley, Leonard Fournette, Ray Lewis, Reuben Foster
Playlist before games – Meek Mill, Kodak Black, Lil Uzi Vert, NBA Youngboy
Favorite movies – The Longest Yard, The Waterboy, King Kong, Planet of the Apes series, Fast and The Furious series
Favorite TV shows – Street Outlaws, ESPN, Discovery Channel
Fun fact that you think nobody knows – “I hunt a lot. I like wildlife. My family owns a farm with pigs, cows, turkeys, chickens and hogs. I have 15 pit bulls.
Nicknames from teammates or friends – “Oz”, “Houdini”
Game film: Gordon’s Hudl tape
Photo credit: Tampa Bay Times
Jake Perper is the founder of Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.