GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Jim McElwain may not have his feet kicked up Wednesday, but he won’t be scrambling for recruits the way he was this time last year.
McElwain and his staff landed 15 prospects during the final two weeks of the 2015 recruiting cycle, seven of which joined the class on National Signing Day.
This year is a much different — but better — scenario.
Florida class breakdown
Ranking: No. 4 by Scout, No. 6 by ESPN, No. 7 by Rivals and 247Sports
Top targets: WR Tyrie Cleveland, CB Kristian Fulton, OL John Simpson and DE Brian Burns
Total projected signees: 26 (room for 28)
Names to know
Antonneous Clayton, DE – Rated a five-star prospect by Rivals, he dominated during the Under Armour All-America practices and should make an instant impact at Florida.
Feleipe Franks, QB – One of the nation’s top pro-style passers who flipped to the Gators from LSU. The Elite 11 finalist will compete for the starting job this spring.
Chauncey Gardner, CB – Another early enrollee who shined as an Under Armour All-American and on the camp and combine circuit. He will see the field as a freshman.
Shavar Manuel, DT – An elite lineman with all the tools and great upside. He committed to UF in January, but the Gators are trying to prevent him from flipping to Florida State.
Storylines to watch
Florida is in position to potentially add three more prospects, and the staff deserves a hat tip if any of them sign.
UF is trying to land a Houston commit from Texas (Cleveland), a Louisiana five-star who has favored LSU (Fulton) and a South Carolina lineman considering Clemson (Simpson). Those are not easy battles to win.
If Florida can pull off just one of those recruiting upsets, it will be a good day for McElwain & Co.
Keeping the commits
A handful of UF commits are announcing final decisions Wednesday: Manuel, linebacker Vosean Joseph, running back Lamical Perine and defensive backs Aaron Robinson and Jeawon Taylor.
Of the five, Manuel and Robinson appear to be the only recruits the Gators are at risk of losing. Manuel took a trip to FSU last weekend, while Robinson made an unofficial visit to Alabama.
During the closing weeks of the last recruiting cycle, UF shot up the team rankings to finish with a top-25 class after being as low as 92nd nationally.
With a full year to recruit, McElwain and his coaches have put together a consensus top-10 class heading into Signing Day.
Depending on how Florida and other schools close, the Gators could make one more jump or fall out of the top 10. It will interesting to see where they end up in the final rankings.
If Florida can hang on to all of its commits and land one of the out-of-state recruits, Wednesday would be huge for the Gators.
Should UF strike out on its remaining targets, it will be an uneventful finish to what’s been a productive recruiting cycle. Regardless, the major needs for Florida have already been addressed, and this class is much deeper and more talented than McElwain’s first.