Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain is trying to regain the Gators brand in the state of Florida and that all starts by locking down the top players in the state in recruiting.
McElwain and his staff have done a good job with that in 2016. In the 2017 recruiting cycle they’re trying to flip Auburn Tigers offensive line commit Calvin Ashley (6-8, 311, Orlando, FL. Dr. Phillips), who is honored to be one of the best in the country.
“It’s really nice thing to have by your name,” Ashley said of being considered a top OL in the country. “This spring I want to work on my technique and work with my hands to prepare for the college level more.”
The Gators have hosted Ashley several times since McElwain took over and the lineman likes the Florida coaching staff.
“Florida has some nice coaches there with Coach Mac there,” he said of Florida. “A lot of nice coaches there. I like Coach Summers; he’s a good offensive line coach and a good coach. He’s a nice guy too.”
Offensive line coach Mike Summers has kept the same message with Ashley since day one in that the Gators need linemen bad and that’s something the Auburn commit is looking hard at.
“Florida tells me that they need tackles bad,” Ashley said of Florida’s message. “I’m committed to Auburn right now but maybe that can change my mind. That will get me on campus for a visit though.”
Another thing that has Ashley’s attention is the fact that McElwain is a legend at Dr. Phillips high school because of his recruiting success there in the past.
“Coach Mac is like family over there at Dr. Phillips,” he said. “He knows a lot of people over there and a lot of people there know him. He’s a pretty good coach and it’s nice to have that connection.”
The Gators, however, aren’t the only team recruiting Ashley to flip, as Florida’s instate rival is also in the mix.
“I’m 100 percent committed to Auburn and I’m not sure if I’m going to switch it or not,” Ashley said of his commitment status. “Florida State, Florida and Auburn are the teams that I’m talking to the most.”
The Gators might not flip Ashley but it wont be for a lack of trying, as the Florida has three coaches including area recruiting Geoff Collins working on Ashley.
“I talk to Coach Mac, Coach Summers and Coach Collins. They are the coaches talking to me from Florida,” he said. “I went up the FAU game this fall and it was a nice visit with a good atmosphere.”
Ashley knows he can play anywhere in the country, but he believes the Gators system will allow him to grow as a player. When the tackle visits Florida he wants to focus on building a relationship with Mike Summers.
“I can fulfill a spot at Florida and develop more there,” Ashley said. “I can play the tackle position for them and I sat down with Coach Summers during my visit so I want to get to know him more.”
This spring Ashley expects to visit three schools including two out of state schools that are after him.
“I might go to Alabama in January and to Auburn in January also,” he said. “I’m going to go to Florida soon maybe a junior day.”
INSIDERS TAKE: Florida is definitely in the mix for Ashley and McElwain’s connection to Dr. Phillips helps that out a ton because he has had success there in the past when he was at Alabama. Ashley is a big time talent that the Florida Gators need to land.