GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The “Chomp Chomp” was on full display at Florida this past weekend.
It’s Jim McElwain’s version of the bat signal, the alarm he unveils on Twitter to let the masses know the Florida Gators just reeled in another commitment.
But this one, the one that dropped at about 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, seemed to carry a little extra weight and enthusiasm around Gainesville.
The reason is simple: This “Chomp Chomp” indicated that 5-star quarterback Matt Corral committed to the University of Florida and signified arguably the biggest commitment of McElwain’s short tenure with the Gators.
— M A T T Y I C E™ (@corral_matt) July 22, 2017
— Jim McElwain (@CoachMcElwain) July 22, 2017
And the commitment came during McElwain’s biggest recruiting weekend, one in which he had 11 top-200 prospects on campus for Florida’s annual Friday Night Lights recruiting showcase. The Gators received seven commitments over the prior four days — five from the Class of 2018 and two for the Class of 2019. Florida’s 2018 recruiting class, in turn, skyrocketed from 40th in the country to 12th in the 247Sports composite rankings. They went from the eighth-best class in the SEC to third, behind just Tennessee (fifth) and LSU (sixth). Alabama, for the moment, is 45th nationally and 11th in the SEC.
McElwain has done this before.
When he was hired as Florida coach in December 2014, he had less than two months to make sure the Gators’ recruiting class stayed intact and attempt to haul in a few big-name players at the finish.
In that time, McElwain lifted the recruiting class from as low as 96th to 21st in the country. Fifteen of UF’s 22 recruits in that class committed in the final two weeks. Seven of those 15 — including offensive lineman Martez Ivey, defensive end CeCe Jefferson and wide receiver Antonio Callaway — committed on signing day.
His next two recruiting classes finished 12th in 2016 and 10th in 2017, with the latter moving up in the national rankings thanks to the 11th-hour signings of some top prospects — T.J. Slaton, James Robinson, and C.J. Henderson among others.
Now, McElwain and his coaching staff is ready to do it again.
The Gators have set themselves up well in the recruiting circle with more than sixth months to go until signing day.
And yet they are still targeting a slew of top prospects that could only continue to push the class higher up the rankings. Among them:
- 4-star wide receiver Jacob Copeland, the No. 9 receiver in the class.
- 4-star wide receiver Anthony Schwartz, the No. 29 receiver in the class.
- 4-star running back Dameon Pierce, the No. 9 running back in the class.
- 4-star offensive lineman Richard Gouraige, the No. 10 offensive tackle in the class.
- 4-star offensive lineman William Barnes, the No. 5 offensive tackle in the class.
- 5-star defensive end Micah Parsons, the No. 1 weakside defensive end and No. 5 overall prospect in the class.
- 4-star linebacker Channing Tindall, the No. 6 outside linebacker in the class.
- 4-star safety Tyreke Johnson, the No. 4 safety in the class.
- 4-star safety Amari Burney, the No. 11 safety in the class.
The list keeps going.
And with the Gators landing their star quarterback for the class, the snowball effect should be in motion on offense.
In one sense, it already is.
One day after Corral committed, 4-star wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase announced his commitment to Florida. Copeland, a top-100 prospect who has been high on the Gators for some time now, said at Friday Night Lights that he plans to move up his commitment date. Schwartz, one of the fastest receivers in the class, named Florida as one of his top-6 schools on Sunday night.
But finally having a quarterback to build a recruiting class around certainly helps. Now, McElwain can turn his focus to the rest of the class.