TAMPA, Fla. — If this week’s recruiting evaluations are any indication, UF puts a huge premium on prospects from the state of Florida.
The Gators have been expanding their national footprint over the past year, but in-state recruits remain the No. 1 priority for coach Jim McElwain and his staff.
“For us, it’s first and foremost,” McElwain said at the Tampa Gator Club. “We try to do as good a job as we can do in our surrounding areas and try to get the ones that fit for us.”
UF coaches hit the road for the first time in the evaluation period Monday with a plan to visit more than 300 high schools across the state this week. The early returns have been promising, with the state’s No. 2 wide receiver naming the Gators his new leader Thursday.
“According to the coaches and the way we’re blitzing areas — and then we’ll go back out and redo some solo stuff basically — it’s been fantastic,” McElwain said of the response on the recruiting trail. “The reception from the high school coaches in what we’re doing to open our doors to them is something that’s been really well-received.”
McElwain designated a day of spring football last month as an open invitation to high school coaches throughout Florida. Many of those coaches then made return trips with their players in tow, resulting in the biggest recruiting turnout for UF spring practices in recent memory.
In order to improve in-state recruiting, McElwain feels it’s important to facilitate those visits and create an appealing environment for prospects, their coaches and their families.
“I think the biggest thing for us is to make sure we get them on our campus and they can see all the really good things that we have,” McElwain said. “And yet, it’s not for everybody. That’s just the way it is. But our emphasis is keeping the guys in-state. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”