As Jim McElwain tries to rebuild Florida football into a championship program, one of his mottos is “recruit daily or die.” Join us here on SEC Country for a daily recap of the latest Florida recruiting news, tales from the trail and perspective on what it all means for the Gators.
More on Adarius Lemons
Our “Next Generation” series concluded Tuesday with an-depth feature on running back Adarius Lemons, who pulled himself out of a “dark hole” to join the Florida football team.
After his de-commitment from UF in late October, Lemons’ status with the Gators and his recruiting process in general remained a mystery until National Signing Day when he rejoined the class.
In his first interview since 2016, Lemons opened up about his suspension from Clearwater High School, having to attend a secondary school and how he changed his life in order to be a Gator.
Despite the issues during his senior year, Lemons told SEC Country that Florida coach Jim McElwain, offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier and assistant Tim Skipper all supported and worked with him throughout his recruitment.
“Truthfully, Coach Skip, Coach Nuss and Coach Mac never washed their hands with me,” Lemons said. “I had to explain myself to the coaches at Florida and I think those guys kind of understood what was going on with from an environmental standpoint. I just told them I’m going to keep working and I’m not going to give up. For them to continue to stay in my corner, that was a blessing.”
Lemons, the state’s No. 1-ranked RB heading into 2016, was Florida’s top target at the position. However, he plummeted in the recruiting rankings and lost his 4-star rating after his suspension ended his senior season after just two games.
Dr. Robert Urban, whose family helped Lemons get back on track academically, said Lemons’ time away from the field last fall didn’t hurt his stock in the eyes of the coaches.
“Adarius’ talent level didn’t change because he missed some games,” Urban said. “Coach Nuss sat at our table and made the argument that it makes Adarius more attractive because, as he said, ‘You’ve got less mileage on you.’ I completely agree.”
When Lemons takes the field for fall camp, it will be first time practicing with a team in almost a year. He’s been looking forward to this since he inked with Gators six months ago.
“It feels like two years since I last played,” Lemons said. “Signing day meant a lot because I officially became a Gator. It was a great feeling to sign those papers and know that my dream is right in front of me. It’s a life-changing opportunity.”
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