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.
Jim McElwain admires Kirby Smart’s recruiting
Florida coach Jim McElwain knows how hard it is to take over an SEC program that’s drowning on the recruiting trial and turn the tide.
That’s why the ex-Alabama coordinator can admire what his former coworker has done with Georgia recruiting, even though his success directly impacts the Gators.
But even McElwain has to tip his hat at UGA coach Kirby Smart & Co.
“They’ve done a great job of recruiting,” McElwain said Monday.
Indeed, they have.
Smart’s 2015 class ranked sixth nationally and he signed the No. 3 class in the country last year. Seventeen of the Bulldogs’ 2017 signees were from the state of Georgia.
“They’re keeping guys at home,” McElwain said. “One thing you see is stay the course. Consistent in what you do and how you do it.”
McElwain’s climb up the recruiting ranks took more time.
He signed a top-25 class in 2015 that once ranked 92nd nationally, followed by a 2016 class that finished No. 12 in the rankings.
McElwain had his breakthrough last year, landing a top-10 class and signing more top-50 recruits from Florida than any other program.
The Gators currently have the SEC’s top class for 2018 with the Richard Gouraige commitment Friday, which moved them up to No. 6 in the team rankings.
Georgia is one spot behind them.
The Gators and Bulldogs have landed a high-profile quarterback (Matt Corral, Justin Fields) and running back (Dameon Pierce, Zamir White) in this recruiting cycle, and they’re not done adding offensive talent.
Both schools could still add a pair of top-100 offensive linemen — William Barnes and Nicholas Petit-Frere for Florida, Trey Hill and Jamaree Salyer for Georgia — and a South Florida speedster, with 4-star RB James Cook likely headed to UGA and 4-star WR Anthony Schwartz favoring the Gators.
McElwain wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Yeah, you feel good about,” McElwain said of Smart’s success. “He’s got things going. You know what, this is the way (it should be). Florida-Georgia, man, that’s what this side should be about.”
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