In his introductory press conference Saturday, new UF coach Jim McElwain said he’s wanted to be a Gator since the first time he recruited the Sunshine State.
That was in 2000 with Louisville, his first coaching job in Division I football.
“I recruited Florida when I was at the University of Louisville, when I was at Michigan State, recruited Florida obviously for the University of Alabama,” McElwain said.
“I saw the influence (UF had on recruits), and I saw what it’s all about. This goes a long time.”
This week, McElwain will be out recruiting the state of Florida again. Only this time, he’ll have on the Gator gear he once coveted.
“Being able to go do that, I’m excited,” McElwain said. “I’m going to hit the road on Monday morning. I’ll be back when it becomes dead again, which is the following week.
“Probably what I’m most excited about is rekindling the relationships, getting back involved with the players and having an affect on their lives. That’s really what it’s all about.”
The dead period begins Dec. 15, and McElwain won’t be able to visit prospects at high schools and in their homes again until Jan. 15. So these next seven days are critical for McElwain, who said he’ll get to “as many places as humanly possible.”
He’ll make his first impression on Florida’s recruiting targets and deliver his pitch.
“No. 1, you got an opportunity to win a national championship,” McElwain said when asked what his message will be to recruits. “But first and foremost, it’s about what that is going to do for the rest of your life, what being a Gator is. Then adjusting to that and understanding, look, we’re here to make sure that your experience is going to do nothing but set you apart for the rest of your life. That’s what it is to be a Gator.”
McElwain is scheduled to visit UF’s top priorities — namely five-stars Byron Cowart, CeCe Jefferson and Martez Ivey — and will try to get some recruits to take a second look at the Gators, such as Florida State quarterback commit Deondre Francois and Miami running back commit Jordan Scarlett.
McElwain already spoke to several prospects Sunday, including all of Florida’s pledges.
“It’s recruit daily or die now,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure we secure a great class.”
Had a good visit with coach Mac today
— D4 (@DerrickDillon4) December 8, 2014
Great talking with Coach Mac #Florida15
— Shmurda (@Jackson_Kalif84) December 8, 2014
Just got off the phone with Coach McElwain. He is a great guy and I can’t wait to get things started with him in the Swamp. #GatorNation
— Heavy Chocolate (@_bsandifer) December 8, 2014
Great talk with Coach. First impressions mean everything.
— Mike Horton(@big_mike247) December 8, 2014
— Tyler Jordan#71 (@tyjordan58) December 7, 2014
@cecejeferson7 love him man. Great coach. Good fit for you
— Tyler Jordan#71 (@tyjordan58) December 8, 2014