In a very short time Jim McElwain has brought back electricity to the Florida Gators football program and Friday night that was evident. Coach Jim McElwain, recruiting coordinator Drew Hughes and the staff put on a tremendous night, hosting hundreds of recruits from all over the state and the country.
Since taking over last year many of the concerns about the perception of the program are being answered by this staff. You could see the excitement and enjoyment from recruits as well as parents.
At the beginning of camp, as players flooded the indoor facility, many had phones and cameras out taking photos and taking in the atmosphere and new facilities. This was the first time for many players and family members seeing the new fixture, and it continues to prove that the facilities are a big hit and only add to the excitement this regime is building around the program.
In today’s world of college football gaining that perception of an exciting place to be is very important and what this staff showed last night is that they fully aware of what it takes to be one of the best in the country.
While Florida was not the only school across the country to host Friday night events, they had to find ways to get elite talent there. After all, the main purpose coaches go to these measures is to get quality players in the building to see the program. Videos and music were blaring throughout the night and Florida did its job in getting players there to experience it.
On hand was plenty of top talent including Florida commits quarterback Jake Allen (Ft. Lauderdale, FL), wide receiver Daquon Green (Tampa, FL) and athlete Kadarius Toney (Eight Mile, AL). Top wideout Jerry Jeudy (Pompano Beach, FL) was also in attendance and he continued to break the internet with electrifying moves. Concord, NC safety Hamsah Nasirldeen was there as well as Florida Gators commit running back Adarius Lemons (Clearwater, FL) who flipped from North Carolina to Florida on Sunday afternoon.
What also makes this a successful night are the commitments that come from it. Late Friday night following the event Ft. Lauderdale American Heritage linebacker James Houston committed to Florida noting the family atmosphere.
That family atmosphere Houston spoke of is clear, as you saw current Florida players assisting during the drills and motivating the young talent on hand. Players were visibly joyful and excited about the program and did a phenomenal job engaging with all the talent on hand.
The pessimist may say these events don’t matter as much as some think, but the reality is that some of the best talent we have seen in orange and blue have attended and participated on this night.
In the world of recruiting, maintaining enthusiasm about the current state and future of the program is extremely important. The biggest deliverers of that message are those that are a part of the team. Following the conclusion of the event, current players were in the face of recruits selling them on what the university has to offer.
Since day one McElwain has preached building the brand. Friday Night Lights went a long way to adding to the Florida brand under the leadership of Jim McElwain. He has been the catalyst behind the resurgence but the groundwork of recruiting coordinator Drew Hughes cannot go unnoticed. He has hast cast a net that has reached from coast-to-coast and has quickly made Gainesville a viable option for recruits.
Jim McElwain has done a phenomenal job in rebuilding the buzz and excitement around the program. Friday Night Lights was only one piece of the weekend that included Sophomore Night and Quarterback Camp on Thursday and Big Man Camp and 7-on-7 football sealing the weekend on Saturday.
As a Gator supporter you have to like what this staff is doing. If McElwain can continue his success on the field, that buzz will only grow louder. The future of Florida football looks to be in good hands.