Florida interim coach Randy Shannon on Sunday got together with director of recruiting Drew Hughes and running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider and started making phone calls.
The early signing period begins on Dec. 20, and Florida has nine recruits who plan to enroll early — namely highly touted quarterback commit Matt Corral.
With Florida likely still weeks away from hiring its next coach, some of the Gators’ top commits are beginning to waver on their pledges to Florida. The first domino fell Thursday when top-100 wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase de-committed.
But the Gators are being proactive with their recruits, and Shannon & Co. got an assist from the person who best knows the progress of Florida’s coaching search: athletics director Scott Stricklin.
Shannon said Thursday on the Gators weekly radio show that Stricklin got on the phone with recruits and gave his case for why they should stay committed to Florida.
“Scott did a wonderful job,” Shannon said. “It was like he was a natural. We made all the phone calls, but he wanted to get on the phone and reassure them that he’s going to make the right decision for the University of Florida and let them guys know that he wanted to be a part of their family. He said, ‘You guys can call me any time. Feel free to call me.’ He gave them his number and he was a natural on the phone as far as recruiting.
“I think that tells you a lot about Mr. Scott Stricklin, about what he believes in and what he represents as a guy that can step up and help out in recruiting. He can’t go on the road. He can’t make the phone calls. We can make the phone calls and he can talk to them, and I think that him doing that really, really shows what type of man he is.”
Florida cut ties with coach Jim McElwain on Oct. 29 after a chaotic week that started with the death-threat comments and ended with an abysmal showing on the field in a loss to Georgia. Stricklin said he did not have a set timeline on when he would name the new coach. He did, however, say that it would be ideal to have a coach in place before the early signing period.
Making the right decision will be critical to keep the Gators’ strong recruiting class intact. Florida’s 2018 class is ranked 10th nationally and second in the SEC, according to the 247Sports composite. The 2019 class is the top in the country.
“You’re committing to a school,” Shannon said. “You’re committing to a program. These guys that are mid-year guys were really tuned in. They sounded great. They were all tuned in. They were still committed to us, committed to the university. I think that Scott will make a great decision.”