Jim McElwain is planning on taking back the Florida Gators recruiting territory, including the panhandle, and in 2017 he has a top target there.
That top target is Alabama offensive line commit Alex Leatherwood (6-5, 298, Pensacola, FL Washington), who says he’s solid to the Crimson Tide but still hearing from others.
“I’m still a steady commitment to Alabama,” Leatherwood said. “Florida is really pushing for me hard and Florida State and Ole Miss are too. Those are the schools pushing hard.”
McElwain is one of the recruiters on Leatherwood and he’s selling the offensive lineman on staying instate.
“I talk to the head coach [Jim McElwain] and really everybody at Florida,” he said. “Coach McElwain tells me to represent my state and be apart of something big happening. Chomp Chomp. Just stuff like that on the daily.”
Leatherwood, who has interest in the Gators, says that McElwain is keeping him in the loop with regards to the program as a whole for the Florida Gators.
“Coach McElwain tells me that Florida is a good program and that it wouldn’t be a bad fit for me,” he said. “He tells me that Florida is a good school to consider because of their success and how they’re trying to get back on track.”
Alabama was the first big offer for Leatherwood and he says that played a large part in why he committed to the Crimson Tide, but he says the home state Gators are close.
“Florida is number two for me behind Alabama,” he said. “Alabama had a bigger impression on me from the start and I feel like if I go there, or really anywhere, I will be successful. I think I have more of a chance of being successful if I go to Alabama.”
McElwain and the Florida Gators recruiting pitch will continue to come Leatherwood’s way and he has a message on what he doesn’t want teams to do.
“They just don’t really need to pressure me but stay recruiting me,” Leatherwood said on what school’s need to do. “They don’t need to be annoying but continue to recruit me hard. I plan to visit Miami, Ole Miss, LSU and to Florida this spring.”
INSIDERS TAKE: Leatherwood and Auburn commitment Calvin Ashley are the top offensive linemen in the state for next year and the Florida Gators recruiting board needs one of those to commit to them for next year.