Enough time has passed that we can evaluate the 2015 Florida recruiting class. It was one of the stranger ones, as it was a transitional class coming off of a disastrous end of a coaching tenure. It had a pair of 5-star players but only four total blue chips out of 20 enrollees. The hit rate was pretty high for a transitional class as we’ll see, and that somewhat bailed out the program during a turbulent time.
I’ve grouped the class into seven categories, and the players in them are listed in order of their rating in the 247 Sports Composite.
Martez Ivey, 5-star: Ivey never fully fulfilled his top billing, but as a four-year starter, he came close. It must be noted that injuries, particularly to his shoulder, played into him not becoming the transcendant player he could’ve been. He always put in the work and was a high character guy. It’s hard to ask for more.
Cece Jefferson, 5-star: His was a weird career, as he didn’t play a ton of his natural defensive end position. The McElwain staff tried bulking him up early in his career to play inside to make up for a lack of depth there, and last fall he played at the Buck position. Buck turned out to not be his best spot, leading to a muted year and him not getting drafted. His best season was 2017, when he recorded a team-high 13.5 tackles for loss as a traditional DE. He was a great program ambassador and mainstay on the defense.
Jordan Scarlett, 4-star: He emerged as a tackle-breaking machine who lead the team in rushing in 2016 and was a co-leader in 2018. The credit card scandal is the only stain on his career.
Antonio Callaway, 4-star: A starter from the beginning, the troublesome off-field Callaway ended up sinking the brilliant on-field Callaway. He might be the best symbol of the McElwain era: very good, if not elite, for two years despite real problems and absent in 2017.
Jabari Zuniga, 3-star: Whatever happens this fall, Zuniga has already earned his spot in this top category. He’s progressed every year, from a guy who dominated bad teams and disappeared against good ones as a redshirt freshman to a complete run and pass defender as a junior. Zuniga is the real deal.
Tyler Jordan, Fred Johnson, Nick Buchanan, 3-stars: I grouped these guys together because their stories are so similar. Jordan and Johnson spent more time in the starting lineup than Buchanan has to date, though another year of starting will largely fix that.
They all struggled to play effectively under the old staff before John Hevesy found a way to make them work last year. None ever did (or will) challenge for All-SEC honors, and fans certainly cursed their names at times. Still, they stuck with it and ended up being good enough by the end of last year to help the Gators throttle Michigan and its great defensive front. Not stars, but starters nonetheless.
Kylan Johnson, 3-star: A high school safety who bulked up to linebacker size in college, Johnson put in solid work in 2016 and an injury-plagued 2017. Todd Grantham’s defense only using two traditional linebackers at a time meant a significant drop in usage last year, though, and he will finish his career at another Power 5 program in Pitt.
Rayshad Jackson, 3-star: Jackson was largely an afterthought before working his way into the rotation last year. He was one of the low-rated Miami players that Randy Shannon recruited, so it is a little ironic that he only began to contribute much after Shannon left. He has decided to grad transfer this year too, and he is decent enough to get a good year’s work in somewhere else.
Luke Ancrum, 3-star: He doesn’t have much production to his name, but he has played a consistent, if small, role as something of a utility defensive lineman. He’ll probably get the most snaps of his career this year as a fifth-year senior.
Jordan Cronkrite, 3-star: One of the Jordans with a last name that was the bane of Verne Lundquist’s pronunciation skills, he couldn’t crack the rotation in what was consistently a deep running back grouping. He’s found his way at USF, though, rushing for 1,121 yards last year with 302 against UMass alone.
Daniel Imatorbhebhe, 3-star: He was Jim McElwain’s first commit and also the first one out the door, transferring in late May of 2015. He transferred to USC, the place his younger brother Josh would end up signing. Daniel had a promising start to his career there in 2017 before injuries derailed his 2018. Funnily enough, Josh entered the transfer portal earlier this year.
Chris Williamson, 3-star: He redshirted in 2015 and played sparingly in 2016. To his credit, he emerged as a contributor at Minnesota last year.
Brandon Sandifer, 3-star: He left the program after not being competitive in what wasn’t a terribly great offensive line grouping. Florida seems to be the end of his football career as I can’t find any information on even where he went after deciding to transfer.
Camrin Knight, 3-star: He couldn’t crack the field as a tight end, and the staff had him trying out linebacker to provide depth in spring 2017. He transferred to Georgia State not long after that spring session, and saw light usage as a tight end there last year.
Kalif Jackson, 3-star: He came in as a big wide receiver and got a look at tight end before his time in Gainesville was through. He worked hard to graduate in December 2017 and became a grad transfer to Grambling. He appeared in three games there last year.
Keivonnis Davis and Richerd Desir-Jones, 3-stars: Both saw their times at UF end at least in part from their getting in trouble with the credit card scandal. Dan Mullen gave Davis the chance to stay, but he didn’t keep the terms of his pre-trial intervention. Desir-Jones ended up choosing to go the JUCO route, ending up at one in Kansas.
Andrew Ivie, 3-star: Joey’s younger brother had a hard time with injuries and had to see a premature end to his football career.
Five of the 20 signees (25%) ended up as top starters, including all four blue chip signees. Callaway and Scarlett did miss entire seasons due to off-field issues, though.
Three more (15%) ended up as starters, if not tremendous ones. An additional three wound up as rotation guys to various degrees with Johnson playing the biggest role of them.
Together that means 55% of the class became at least regular contributors, if not more. For a transitional class, that’s not bad at all.
Two (10%) transferred out without making much of an impact, four (20%) were outright busts, and two more were disciplinary cases. One of the disciplinary cases was on his way to bust status, while Davis had a chance to become a regular player if he had kept it together off the field. There was one unfortunate ending as a medical disqualification.
That’s how the 2015 class ended up. Zuniga and Ancrum still have pages left to write in their UF careers, but the scoring is largely done. It will never be a celebrated class, but it did help deliver two SEC East titles and a 10-win campaign last year. For Florida’s lowest-rated class in the online recruiting service era, that’s not too shabby.