Cowart turns focus to recruiting

Byron Cowart is impressed with new Florida coach Jim McElwain. (Photo by Zach Abolverdi/The Gainesville Sun)

ORLANDO — Byron Cowart’s high school career ended Saturday with another loss in the state title game.

His Armwood Hawks were defeated 24-10 by Miami Central, the same team that beat them in the Class 6A final last year.

With his senior season now over, the consensus five-star defensive end will turn his focus to recruiting.

Cowart will take his final three official visits to Auburn, Florida and Florida State in January. He’s already visited Alabama and Maryland.

New UF coach Jim McElwain talked to Cowart for an hour last Sunday and met him for the first time Tuesday.

“He was a great guy,” Cowart said. “He has a lot of confidence, has a swagger to him. He has the key to success in his back pocket, that’s what he told me.

“Now he wants to just put that into Florida like they did at Colorado State. He went 10-2 (this year). He has a dream and he’s trying to make it work at Florida.”

Florida’s hiring of McElwain has put Cowart at ease about the future of the football program.

“It’s good. I see the light,” he said. “I hope they see the light. Defense is always going to be good, fundamentally sound. I know a lot of people were saying ‘the offense.’ This is an offensive-minded guy, worked with Saban, won two national championships at Alabama and hopefully Florida’s going in the right direction.”

McElwain wasn’t able to give Cowart answers this week on which coaches will be on staff, but he did address it with the 6-foot-4, 250-pounder.

“He promised me that no matter what, I’ll have a good defensive line coach,” Cowart said. “Defensively, I think they’re going to do what they have been doing.”

Cowart hopes to announce at the Under Armour All-America Game next month, but if he’s not set on a school by then, he’ll wait until signing day. He’ll take his remaining visits regardless of when his decision comes.

Cowart will officially visit Auburn on Jan. 17, the first weekend of the contact period. What did he think of Will Muschamp becoming the Tigers’ defensive coordinator?

“I was happy,” Cowart said. “That was great, because I know that he’s going to run that same defense and Auburn now has a position that’ll stand me up and play that Dante Fowler position.”

Cowart has been impressed with Florida State’s success on the field and in recruting, and he’s keeping a “real close” eye on the Seminoles. He said the recent commitment of five-star DE Josh Sweat to FSU doesn’t hurt the school’s chances.

“That increases it,” Cowart said. “I love to compete, from Martez Ivey on down to CeCe Jefferson. We’re all great guys and we can only learn from each other, because nobody’s perfect. You help me on my pass rush, I’ll help you on your run block.”

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  1. Oh waaaah. The Gators won’t sign anyone but one and two star recruits this year. We were just so outstanding until made our coaching change. Goodness, the sky is falling ! Anyone know how to reach Henny Penny ? Chicken Little is in the building.
    Will Muschamp, the greatest coach in UF history, stiffed us to become Auburn’s defensive coordinator. Now all the truly good football players will want to go to the Plains. Oh me, oh my! Why should we either bother recruiting? And by the way, contact me if you’re interested in some lovely real estate in the Evergladed.

  2. Well it isn’t good news that Muschamp is going to Auburn, especially since they were significant players for Cowart, Ivey, and Holland,all guys that were expected to be locks for UF before the past season began. A coaching change is rarely a positive thing, it looks like it’s going to take a while for UF’s to bring benefits. The good thing? It’s probably safe to say that UF has hit rock bottom with the teams of the past five years, the only direction, Hopefully, to go is up.

  3. I haven’t lost all hope but I am ready for this recruiting year to be over and the chips fall where they may..Its not our happiest times gator nation but things will look up sooner than later..Sure coach Mack is put in a tough spot with two months to have to fix the mess the last ball coach left behind… And that said coach just take advantage of the opportunity to be placed with a head coach like Gus who actually knows how to build a program..But winning cures all of this..Coach Mac shows some offense and the next staff who ever it will be is in tact we will be where we are use to being….But I am ready for spring now..Being a die heart gator this is taking a toll…

  4. As optimistic as I am its getting tougher & tougher to see if any of the ‘Big Three’ will actually choose the Gators. Maybe Cece and hopefully Byron, as Coach Mac has told him that the defense would remain basically with the same concept. I’m like gator guy-can’t wait for the signing day period to be over because its excruciating. GO GATORS!

  5. Please, no comments that i am not a GATOR. The future promising, but might take a few years to rebuild the Mighty Gators. Foley gets so much praise. If he would have made this decision a year earlier, like he Should have, we would not be in this recruiting fog. GO GATORS!!

  6. Meyer, Muschamp, Zook. Zook’s hiring was unpopular before he got off the plane in Gainesville. We’ve been through enough misery the last five years that Coach Mac can win nine games in 2015 and be our star coach. He’s come along at an ideal time, following a coach characterized by dull, unimaginative offenses and dull performances. In recruiting we surely knew Mac is working at a disadvantage. We might not get ALL the 5-stars interested in us this year, but this will indeed be the bottom. And if we come up short on defensive recruits we’ll still be fine on the field next fall. Hopefully we retain Durkin and Lawing. TRob hasn’t gone yet, but we’ll play same or similar defense…

  7. And you can bet Mac will pull in a serviceable group this year for the offense, then a big- time class in 2016. Muschamp, meantime, will rehabilitate his career, stay at Auburn 2-4 years and get another shot at maybe Mississippi State or Arkansas. This is a short-term transition for us as our new coach starts rebuilding a championship contending, proud Gator program.

  8. Seeing some sort of trend here with big name coaches that were previously successful position coaches, and then failures as head coaches being picked up by schools that want to refine their programs. It is no longer enough to have a big name head coach, you need a big name offensive/defensive coordinator also (see Auburn, Alabama, more to come). Don’t be surprised to see Spurrier go that way also.

  9. I like what Foley has done with our overall Athletic program and the recent hire with coach Mac.I’m not sure what the industry norm is with coaching salaries, but my opinion is if you are Fired for incompetency you should not be receiving the rest of the salary on your contract, or the salary ends the day you get a new job. That seems to be a straight forward contract and fair to all. If I’m fired for my own action or lack of, I don’t get money for a certain period of time bbecause I didn’t do the job I was getting paid to do. GO GATORS!!!!

  10. According to ESPN Recruiting, these 2015 recruits are ‘Considering’ UF:

    All 7 of these are 5 Stars on the Top of the ESPN Top 300 List.
    #1, 4 DT’s
    #1, 3 DE’s
    #2, 3 CB’s
    #1 OT (Orlando – The FL 8A State Champs)

    Of the Top Rated 4 Stars, 14 are ‘Considering’ UF:
    #1 TE-H, 3 TE-Y
    #2, 5, 6, 7 WR’s
    #2, 4 OLB’s — #2 ILB
    #2 RB
    #3 QB-DT
    #7 OG — #1 JC OT
    #9 Ath

    Those 21 are among the many other undeclareds that are considering a UF commit….
    Just 1/2 of those + the 7 already committed would be a Top 10 class. 1/3 of them, with a few others plus the 7 already committed would still be a Top 20 class (10 ESPN 300’s).
    No Worries Mates! (and I agree, the SKY is NOT falling)

  11. Durkin has interviewed with Larry Fedora for vacant defensive coordinator job at North Carolina. Fedora ‘s first three Tar Heel teams have set new school records for poor performances in several categories. Guessing Durkin is not likely to remain as our DC , or maybe he’s only checking out his options.

  12. Gatormac, wouldn’t you do the same if no one is telling you if you dont have to worry we will be retaining you, the same with T-Rob if Auburn makes an offer. I say we should not wait to see if anyone else is interested before we step up to the plate. These guys have families the have to feed also and waiting too late may put their choices in jeopardy. If coach Mac is ging to retain them(any of them) he needs to let them know now. He may have already told them, I don’t know, but Im SURE the GATOR NATION wants to know as well. If he doesn’t keep them and we have a Bullshit Defense next year, he’s going to start out on the WRONG foot. We have had great defensive teams for as long as I can remember. If it aint broke don’t fix it!!! GO GATORS!!!!

  13. Creek Gator, I was only passing on information that another website for North Carolina reported. I’m hoping Durkin, TRob, Lawing and Summers are retained. There’s undoubtedly a short list in Coach Mac’s back pocket or head of good assistants he would hire. It’s up to him to construct his staff. He’ll figure out which of the current coaches are a good fit for him. I don’t want Mac hamstrung by a poor staffing choice as I think Muschamp was with Weiss. I care a lot about how our recruiting turns out in February. More important is the big picture of what our new ball coach constructs that will lead us over the coming years.

  14. I do agree with Creek Gator concerning the issue regarding our staff..Coach Mac needs to get his staff in check when it comes to the defense and retaining coach Durkin, T-rob and Lawing as well…I thought at first he might have already had that worked out but with Durkin interviewing for jobs I really don’t know now.. I really do believe in coach Mac but if our defense struggles next year and we have not retained anyone from that defensive staff you have to question something…Also recri

  15. I think Mac knows exactly what he’s doing and expect some staff announcements over the next week or so. He hit the ground running with a huge challenge to redeem what is thus far a terrible outcome. Observing bowl practices, plus gauging the effectiveness of each assistant in recruiting, surely go into his evaluation of which man or men he wants to retain. And he certainly has some coaching associates elsewhere he wants to bring on board. Our new ball coach is bright, a guy who’s risen from lower division to a now storied SEC program. Culturally and, in our conference, we need a head coach who brings a strong offense with good passing as well as an ongoing emphasis on defense. I’m pretty confident Mac brings those qualities. His staff will shortly take shape and give us a good read on what he believes. But first, it’s been all about recruiting.

  16. Gatormac, I believe in all the things you have said and my hope is coach Mac may have already handled what we are speculating on. But as Gator guy has said even the recruits want to know who will be retained. Much of his evaluation should come from the results of the on the field performance of this defensive unit. Not saying how he evaluates, and what i’m saying is just a small part of the evaluation process. I just think he needs to step up the process. If he needs the time let him take it but it may cost us in the end. GO GATORS!!!!

  17. Morning, Creek Gator! My guess is that we know the core of Mac’s staff by sometime next week. Guessing he’s only retaining TRob, Summers and maybe strength coach. Not sure how Leak might fit in. If there are a couple if big hires it could prove a boost for January decisions. Hope so.

  18. This will not end pretty.
    You think the last two years of WM were hard , i’m thinking next year will be worse.

    i’m guessing WM, recruiter rob, Ivey, jefferson, cowart all end up at Auburn.
    The rest of the staff will also be somewhere else. Then any good remaining recruits will also be elsewhere. Also current players will be going pro & TX before next year.

    I’m guessing the rest of the SEC coaches are pretty happy with the HC & DC UF ended up with.

  19. new DC keep t rob summers pull in four&five star recruits and let’s get the mayham began but hell I could coach the guys we got coming back to a top defence in the sec even if we don’t sign any body on defence new DC walking into a lot of great young athletes but if we can get a few studs to sign then. let the mayham begin we will always have a great defence here just to much speed in the state fl

  20. I trust that Coach Mac knows what he is doing when it comes to picking a new staff and will trust his judgment whether to keep any of the current coaches. I hope that if he gets any new coaches, they came from his list of former Alabama coaches. I hate to say it, but these coaches who have coached under Saban, know how to win and hopefully that will rub of on our program. GoGators.

  21. Don’t read media websites about recruiting classes. CBS Sports 247 has Gators 2015 Class rated LAST in SEC, even behind Vanderbilt. Good thing games are won or lost on the field, not in the Media. Note the 2014 defense finished 9th in the nation (3rd straight year in Top 10) and 9 starters return (hopefully). It’s the offense that is the challenge.