GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Speaking on the SEC coaches teleconference Wednesday, Gators coach Jim McElwain lauded the recruiting impact the team’s opponent this week, Arkansas, has made in the state of Florida since Bret Bielema took over the program there.
Arkansas has 10 players from the state of Florida on its roster, including three key cogs on defense in sophomore cornerback Ryan Pulley (Fort Myers/1 interception, 10 pass break-ups, 27 tackles), senior defensive tackle Jeremiah Ledbetter (Orlando/31 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 4 tackles for loss) and junior strong safety De’Andre Coley (Miami/2 forced fumbles, 22 tackles).
“They’re really good. I wish they were here, but no, here’s what I think they do an outstanding job of is the evaluation of talent that fits into what they’re trying to do schematically on both sides of the ball,” McElwain said. “That’s a credit to them and knowing what they’re looking for and the type of player they’re looking for and they’ve got really good players.”
The Arkansas roster also includes freshman DB Deon Edwards (Clermont), freshman LB Alexy Jean-Baptiste (Pompano Beach), redshirt-freshman OL Jalen Merrick (Oak Hill), freshman QB Carson Proctor (Vero Beach), sophomore DE Randy Ramsey (Fort Lauderdale), sophomore DL Michael Taylor II (Orlando) and senior LB Josh Williams (Fort Lauderdale).
Bielema is in his fourth season as Arkansas’ head coach.
“They’ve done a great job down there, and you know what, when you go around, to his credit, they’ve really done a really good job of the brand,” McElwain said. “And people are aware of Arkansas and the program he’s putting together. No, he’s really made a great impact in this state.”
McElwain offered a qualifier, though, when asked if he expected the Razorbacks’ Florida natives to be especially motivated for the teams’ game Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark.
“There’s Florida players all over the country and I think that can be said whenever the University of Florida goes and plays anywhere,” he said. “The amount of players that are on those different rosters. But the one thing I will say, because of the great job he does in recruiting and people being aware, a lot of our players know about Arkansas because they were recruited by them, obviously have friends that are there. They’re aware of what a great place it is. So I think the awareness piece is there that maybe hadn’t been there before.”