GAINESVILLE, Fla. — On National Signing Day, UF added 13 recruits to the school-record 12 early enrollees it brought in for the spring.
Florida’s 25 signees address several major needs for 2016. Here are five things Gators coach Jim McElwain likes about Florida’s recruiting class:
- “When you look at how we recruit, everybody is involved heavily. Obviously Kerry Dixon had a lot to do with (landing WR Tyrie Cleveland) being the position coach there, but when he was here it was a little piece of everybody. I think he felt it.”
- For Florida fans who love the signing day declarations, UF arguably landed its most talented and important recruit Wednesday in Cleveland. Dixon was his primary recruiter and did a lot of the leg work to make that flip happen. But having seen and heard how structured Florida’s official visits are, dozens of players, staff members and administrators have a hand in the process. It really is a team effort.
- “Guy can get off the football and make plays. There’s a case of a guy we got on early, just a credit to his family and the people around him that he stayed with us. This is a guy Gator fans should be really proud of.”
- That’s McElwain talking about five-star defensive Antonneous Clayton, Florida’s highest-ranked commit in the 2016 class. He committed to UF during the fall and stayed loyal to the Gators despite Auburn and Florida putting the full-court pressure on him. Here’s the story on his signing.
- “We’ve got some quality (linebackers) in those spots, but the lines aren’t very long. It’s like when you go to Disneyland and get one of the Fast Passes and you get to go on a ride right away. These guys are going to come and get on a ride right away. They’ll have a chance to get better in a hurry.”
- Linebacker was big need for the Gators in this class, and they signed three at the position. Vosean Joseph, Jeremiah Moon and David Reese may not be elite prospects, but consider this: Alabama and Miami wanted Joseph, Auburn and Mississippi State wanted Moon, and Nebraska and Texas wanted Reese. Those programs know a thing or two about linebackers, as does UF assistant Randy Shannon.
- “It was fun to have the full kind of cycle (in 2016). We already have great momentum on ’17 and ’18. I’m really excited about that, just the way we were able to kind of get an earlier start with all the guys and build relationships.”
- The full year in this cycle allowed Florida to flip recruits such as Cleveland, identify sleepers like Joseph early on and create bonds that other schools couldn’t break (Clayton). By filling up most of their 2016 class weeks ahead of signing day, the Gators were able to turn some of their attention to underclassmen during the January contact period and get the ball rolling for next year.
- “I kind of like how we’ve got something from a lot of the areas as far as within the state and not just focused on one central area. That’s something we still need to get better at, and we’ll keep working at it.”
- One of McElwain’s goals in recruiting is to lock up the state of Florida. The Gators still have a ways to go, but they’ve made strides under McElwain. After hitting South Florida hard at the end of the 2015 cycle, UF was able to have success this year in Central Florida, Daytona Beach, Jacksonville and the Panhandle. The Gators still need to do better in the Tampa area.