With a year under his belt and expectations high, Jim McElwain thought the Gators were very competitive on Signing Day. With twelve early enrollees as well as the graduate transfers, Florida had some specific situations they wanted to address through recruiting. But McElwain didn’t want the players already in school to miss out on the celebration of Signing Day.
“We did one with our team down there (in the team room), where we introduced the guys, put them in Gator colors and showed some highlights and had them make a couple comments and that was pretty good,” McElwain explained.
Looking at his class, the Gators head coach said it was plain to see what they were trying to do this year. The class included five wide receivers.
“I think you can kind of tell what we were trying to do in this class. We were trying to kind of restructure some of the rooms, get some new blood in there, get some guys as competition as we move forward.”
While their defense was solid and fast, Florida’s offense sputtered at the end of the year and was part of the plan when coaches in Gainesville focused on the recruiting process.
“I think we addressed some of those position needs. I feel really good at the skill spots. We obviously have some young offensive linemen and we have got a couple that we look forward to adding to that,” McElwain said regarding getting better on offense.
“But when you look at from the receiver, quarterback, running back side, I think we’ve got some really good talent in there. It will be fun to watch them, because the majority of here already. So we’ll get a good feel for that this spring.”
Getting what he calls the “full cycle” paid off for McElwain and he pointed to the biggest name to sign on Wednesday, Tyrie Cleveland, as a player who the Gators were able to “turn” because of his ties to Florida. “He’s a guy that came by this summer and always had a lot of interest in the Gators, right there in Duval County, before he moved to Texas, so he’s not necessarily, you know, stuck and into the Texas part of it,” the head coach said with a smile.
“For him, it’s a little bit of a homecoming. Here is a guy that grew up wanting to be a Gator, playing in the swamp, back with a bunch of guys — a couple guys that he actually grew up playing with. So I’m really happy he’s back in this part of the country.”
As far as the recruiting in the state, McElwain said they can do better and is already looking forward to the next two years.
“We’ve still got a long ways to go, but we’ll continue to work that in all those areas. I’m really, I kind of like how we’ve got some from a lot of the different areas, as far as within the state, not just focused on one central area. That’s something that we still need to get better at. We’ll keep working at it.”