The Florida Gators recruiting class finished with 25 commitments, including 12 early enrollees — the most of any school in the nation.
“When you look at it, those guys that jumped on board early, those 12 guys and the graduate transfer (quarterback Austin Appleby) that are here right now to go through spring ball, I think that speaks a lot about who they are and what they’re all about,” McElwain said about the early enrollees.
McElwain and his coaching staff hit big needs with two quarterbacks, five wide receivers and a kicker but there was something missing. Of the 25 commits only four were rated top-50 recruits in the state of Florida. The Gators did a good job out of state, pulling in a top-safety from Mississippi, four players from Alabama, including the top running back in the state — Lamical Perine. They also added a five star stud in Georgia defensive end Antonneous Clayton and one of the best receivers in the country in Tyrie Cleveland from Houston, Texas.
Florida routinely puts out some of the top talent in the entire country and the Gators need to do a better job of recruiting their home state.
“We’ve still got a long ways to go, but we’ll continue to work that in all those areas,” McElwain said when asked about locking up the state. “I kind of like how we’ve got something from a lot of the areas as far as within the state and not just focused on one central area. That’s something we still need to get better at, and we’ll keep working at it.”
One of Florida’s big perceived misses on Signing Day as defensive tackle Shavar Manuel. The inside lineman from IMG Academy — a school Florida has yet to sign a player from in the Academy’s young history — flipped from his Florida commitment to Florida State. Manuel was the only interior defensive lineman in Florida’s class and his departure left Florida with no help in the class at that spot.
“That’s a choice,” McElwain said when asked about Manuel specifically. “That’s what it is.”
Looking toward the next recruiting cycle the state of Florida is predictably loaded with 40 players in the early Rivals 250. 20 of those players are inside the top 100, but Florida State (3) and Ohio State (2) have more commitments from the top 100 than Florida (0). Even Baylor (1) and Auburn (1) have more top-100 recruits committed in the 2017 class from the state of Florida. Currently the Gators only have two commitments from the top 40 instate players (players inside the Rivals 250).
McElwain’s first full class is done. He wore a smile when speaking about the 25 players who signed on the dotted line and will soon join him in Gainesville but he knows what he has to do. The University of Florida is the flagship university in the state and they need to do a better job of keeping the top instate talent at home and in Orange and Blue.