Jim McElwain has been involved in a recruiting whirlwind since taking over as the head coach of the Florida Gators. He recently got a win, landing two commits on Monday and he and his staff are still working tirelessly to finish off the recruiting class.
Recruits have spoken about McElwain’s enthusiasm, hard working nature and confidence as things that immediately stuck out to them on the recruiting trail but these players are just getting to know McElwain. To get a better idea of what kind of coach the Gators can expect Gator Country sat down with McElwain’s former quarterback at Colorado State Garrett Grayson during Senior Bowl week to get a feel for Florida’s new head man.
Grayson, a senior, finished seventh in the nation in passing (308.2 yards-per-game), while throwing 33 touchdowns and completing over 61% of his pass attempts last season.
Gator Country: What was one of the biggest things you learned from playing under Coach McElwain?
Grayson: He taught me the importance of paying attention to the details on the football field and in life, basically. He’s one of the coaches who cared about every single detail there is and that obviously translated to the football field. Before he got there we had had three 3-9 seasons and for him to turn it around in three years and go 10-3 this season, you have to give him a lot of credit. I wish him all the best at Florida.
Gator Country: Is McElwain more of a CEO type of coach that oversees everything or is he hands on in practice and in the film room?
Grayson: He’s a mixture of both, the CEO type of coach and hands on. He does sit back and kind of watch practice and everything but if things are not going the way he wants them to be going he’s not afraid to jump in there, get on you and harp on you a little bit. He does let the coaches coach and do their job but he will jump in there at any time if he doesn’t feel like we’re executing the right way.
Gator Country: What about discipline? Is Mac a disciplinarian? How did he handle issues on or off the field with players?
Grayson: He’s not a guy that will make you do 20 sprints if you get in trouble. He’s more of a coach that will sit you down, explain to you what you did wrong and it may not be in the quietest manner but he’s not a guy that is going to embarrass you in front of the whole team.
Gator Country: How involved was McElwain with the offense at Colorado State?
Grayson: He was extremely involved with the offense for about the first two seasons. This last season Coach Baldwin kind of took over more and we really took off but we ran a lot of his offense still this season.
Gator Country: Coach Mac has talked about being multiple on offense and building an offense around the strength of the players he has? How did he do that with you guys at Colorado State?
Grayson: He wants to be as balanced as possible. He doesn’t want any team be able to tee off and know our tendencies. That’s kind of his thing, to take shots when people aren’t expecting you to throw 50 yards down the field. He wants you on your heels the whole time and second guessing yourself. I think the way you do that is by staying balanced and concentrating on doing that.
Gator Country: People have called Mac’s personality ‘exciting.’ Is that an accurate word for his demeanor and how he is with his players?
Grayson: Yeah, absolutely. I think Florida should be very excited about what they just got. To turn around a program like Colorado State that really had nothing going for it for a number of years, to do what he did in a three-year span. Then you think about the athletes that Florida is going to get, it should be unreal.
Gator Country: Off the field, how does McElwain relate to his players and what kind of relationships does he build with you guys?
Grayson: He wants to be able to connect to you as a person. I think that’s something that he wants to connect with you off he field so he can relate with you and know what’s going through your mind on the field and be able to relate to you in that regard.