McElwain eyeing in-state recruits for 2015, beyond

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Jim McElwain is looking to salvage Florida's 2015 class with in-state recruits. (Photo by Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun)

Florida coach Jim McElwain returned to Fort Collins, Colo., this week to celebrate Christmas with his family.

Once the holidays are over, McElwain will be back at work and gearing up for a sprint to signing day, Feb. 4. The Gators have eight verbal commitments and scholarship room for 25 signees at this time.

“We’ve got a lot of scholarships to give, and for us the biggest thing is making sure we get the right fit,” McElwain said Monday on the Ronnie and Tkras Show on 620 WDAE. “Not only great players, but great character and guys that fit the University of Florida.”

McElwain wants the makeup of the class to be balanced and said the offensive line, which could return just eight players next season, is a position he’s “really pounding on right now” as a priority. He visited three linemen his first weekday on the recruiting trail, including five-star offensive tackle Martez Ivey.

After his introductory press conference Dec. 6, McElwain spent the next eight days on the road before the dead period started Dec. 15.

The contact period resumes Jan. 15 and ends the 31st. McElwain will try to triple his current number of commits over the six weeks.

“It’s definitely one of those deals that we’ve really got to hit the ground running right after the first of the year,” McElwain said Monday on the Frank Frangie Show on 1010XL. “The response we’ve received, obviously there’s previously relationships that have been built with recruiters from different school with all these kids, and yet we are opening up a new opportunity.

“A new opportunity to be a Gator. There’s a lot of kids that have grown up wanting to be in that orange and blue, and you know what, we’re going to get back in, we’re going to give them that opportunity to be a part of a great university and really, a chance to build a legacy.”

That building process for McElwain will begin in UF’s own backyard. One of his main recruiting objectives is taking back the state of Florida, particularly the Tampa area.

He made more than two dozen visits earlier this month and saw nine of the top 20 in-state recruits, according to the rankings of 247Sports.com. Five of those nine were from the Tampa area.

“When you look from a historical standpoint, when Florida was really rolling, they controlled and had the majority of really good players out of that area,” McElwain told 620 WDAE. “We have to get back in and make sure we’re getting the best out of that area as we build our team.

“Obviously I’m a firm believer (that) we are the University of Florida and it’s Florida first, then the rest of it is second. … We’re re-evaluating guys as we speak and making sure that we get the right fit, and first and foremost with players from the state of Florida.”

McElwain, who expects to speak with some recruits by phone on Christmas, is confident the Gators will have a strong finish to the 2015 recruiting cycle.

“We will do a great job salvaging this recruiting class,” McElwain told 1010XL. “There are some really good players out there that have given us notice and some that haven’t made up their minds yet. Those are the ones we are going to go after. And then, we got to get a great start on the evaluation for the 2016 and 2017 class. For us, that all starts with capturing the state of Florida as much as we can.”

58 COMMENTS

  1. I guess the worry about this recruiting class is over. McElwain says some great players “have given us notice” and follows that by saying some that haven’t made up their minds yet.” That can only mean hat he has already locked up some great players and they just haven’t announced yet. The only question is who. Since every coach says every player he gets on signing day is a great player, we’ll just have to wait and see if the players he has already locked up are guys like Ivey and Cowart or lesser players like the only one who has publicly committed since his hire. Have none of these guys made public their announcement because they want to do so at the upcoming all-star games? Or is McElwain telling them to hold off doing so because they may be committed to a rival school and he wants to screw up their class by having them think they are getting someone until it’s too late to get someone else to replace them? Let’s see if McElwain can actually get anyone from the Tampa area to come this year, not one has publicly done so yet and most of them were considered locks for Florida.

  2. OMG, give your pessimism a break. This is the start of something great. Do the research on Mac and you will see the brightest future the Gators have had since Spurrier. The man is a commanding leader both on and off the field. He and we are winners. PERIOD

  3. This group will be okay. Maybe really good. After all the tumult Tennessee brought on itself with poor coaching choices , losing seasons and recruiting wash-outs, Butch Jones’ short-cycle first class skyrocketed in the national rankings. Jones, like McElwain, was a coach from outside the traditional power league programs, and unlike Mac had no previous strong times to the SEC. Florida remains educationally and culturally the premier school in the state and the highest rated public university south of Chapel Hill, NC, and Charlottesville, VA. Great prospects see the early opportunities our program’s current situation offers, the building of a strong staff with an optimistic head coach, and the likelihood of being leaders for a new era of football glories at THE University of Florida.

  4. I am glad to see the new coach focus heavily on establishing a strong presence in the state. I feel that we have missed on way to many quality athletes. Not only sign they must be developed; I know you can never fully predict how they develop. But it appeares that we have struggled in the dvelopment area. The trend must turn around Go Gtors

  5. If we can get Merrick into school in Jan, get Ivey, Holland, Cowert and CeCe all committed, the dominoes will fall. Everyone will want to follow these great players because they know something special is about to happen.

  6. Homer J – If he gets all those players signed, it would be truly amazing. I hope he does, but doubt he will get all of them. If he gets a couple of them, that would be great. I like the coaching hires so far and think they will help the recruiting long term. Now that we have the coordinators, maybe we will get the position coaches straightened out soon.

  7. When players have given notice they are saying FSU is where the top players are wanting to go. Not to ruffle gator nation, but just being a truth teller.and how bout Coach Fish new contract. That can’t make Gator Nation real Happy.

  8. The beginning of the end is in sight for FSU. Winston, character flaws aside, is a once in a generation talent and he’s gone, Even with him, they should have lost three games this year (Notre Dame, Florida and Georgia Tech). Lucky breaks regress to the mean sooner than later, and you have to remember that FSU’s recent recruiting success was made possible by the Urban Meyer “I’m quitting; no, I’m staying; no, I’m quitting” debacle, which provided an opening for FSU that lasted three recruiting cycles. As someone omce said, “great players make great coaches.” Naturally, McElwain will be judged on results. But based upon what I know of Fisher and McElwain right now, I’d pick McElwain every day of the week and twice on Sunday. As Aaron Rogers said earlier this year, “Relax.” Gtreat things are happening with the Gators.

  9. James Fisher – Actually I’m glad Jimbo got the extension. Funny thing is, Jimbo lost 10 games his first three years. I even remember Noles fans screaming for his head.

    Fact is, Jimbo wasn’t that great a coach in a weak conference until Winston came along. People seem to be ignoring that. Ever wonder why Jimbo is defending Winston to the death? Think Meyer and Tebow.

    Once Winston leaves, does Jimbo go back to being his old 3-loss per season self? When he does, now you’re stuck with a mediocre coach. And Jimbo’s hold on Florida will fade now. Nobody had faith in Muschamp.

    Keep yaking Noles fan. It won’t last past this season. And we’ll be here to remind you.

  10. Ntcrze’s comments are ridiculous. Tebow’s NFL career ended badly, yes. He was rewarded for winning a playoff game with a trade to the mismanaged Jets, as even Sanchez leaving them then finding success tells you all you need to know about the Jets coaching. But you’ll never convince me that with all the slew of really bad 2nd and 3rd string NFL QBs, Tebow isn’t better than one of them. Tebow was blackballed by the media circus and coaches don’t want to deal with it.
    .
    The ACC’s four best teams did go 4-0 against one decent SEC team and 3 bad ones. If you want to brag how your best teams had close wins against 6-loss Kentucky, South Carolina and Florida teams. Well, okay. But let’s match those same ACC teams against the four best SEC teams before you declare conference dominance, eh? But we’ll see that soon enough when Bama first crushes OSU and then FSU. And while we’re at it let’s see if the ACC can rattle off 7 straight national championships with THREE DIFFERENT TEAMS. Three different teams — what other conference can make such a boast? Yeah, FSU is good, but does anyone else see GT or Louisville or even Clemson winning an NC anytime soon? I don’t. In fact, you’ll see we lowly Gators win another before any ACC team not named FSU win one.
    .
    Winston is a great player, but you’ll see him end up like every other Heisman winner in the NFL — drafted waaaay too high. No NFL team will touch him as the first player though. They may take him 3rd or so, but it won’t be first short of a team trading it away. I think he’ll have a solid career, but it’s ridiculous to compare him to Manning or Elway. He’ll have a career like Cam Newton before him, have some good years, have some not so good ones. But if I had a dollar for every time I saw a college QB anointed as the next chosen one I’d own Microsoft. Meanwhile it will be the NFL team that drafts an OT or DE in the first and takes a Sean Mannion or some underrated QB in round 5 that gets the most bang for their buck. If you don’t understand that you must not watch any NFL football. The combine always, always, always trumps whatever these kids do in college.
    .
    James Fisher, did I really just read you talking trash about basketball? Even should you pull off a meaningless December upset, how many NC’s does FSU basketball have? How many Final Fours? Let us know when they go to three straight Elite 8s, okay? You’ll see UF win another basketball title and another football title before that happens. As soon as your coach gets a little more success, he’s gone BTW. Don’t get too used to him.
    .
    Primo, one bad class can hurt, but it doesn’t hurt immediately, rather it hurts 2-3 years down the road. And it certainly doesn’t hurt for 5 years. That’s ridiculous. McElwain will have to win with the guys he has now. He does that and then recruits well in 2015, the early enrollees alone that count towards 2015 instead of 2016 can make up for a small calls in 2015 February.

  11. Boy, the biased comments on here are truly amazing. McElwain is going to turn the program back in the right direction, but it is going to take some time. The 2016 and 2017 classes will be key to his future success and he knows it. Concerning the panhandlers, Fisher’s extension was highly justified and he did what McElwain is going to do. He is a great coach and FSU is loaded with talent for years to come….and they will have excellent QBs after Winston leaves. The Florida-FSU battle will be back to where it belongs soon. Florida is heading up. FSU will stay up. It will be big battles in the future. Go Gators.

  12. Gator Rob and Tampa Gator, love your comments. I hope these pessisimistic Gator fans can get on a positive note. It is amazing how all of these pessisimists can’t even give all of this a chance to play out, the new players to grow with the older players with the new coaching staff and go from there. I’m so sick of this negative predictions and down play of everything the Gators are doing.

  13. I wish all of the pessimistic Gator fans who are criticizing Coach Mac, negative this and that, their negative opinions, their negative outlooks LIKE THEY ARE SOME KIND OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL EXPERT, I wish they would cross over and get on the FSU Miami, Georgia LSU Alabama trains. There is growth in being positive, there is no growth in being negative.

  14. Change is hard. I was worried about losing coaching staff. But the two coordinators are off the charts hires. I’m excited and I think recruits will be too. I read somewhere recently that the staff of Meyer, Mullen Strong, Mattison and Addazio just wasn’t fair. This staff is starting to shape up the same way.

  15. Stan, I’ll take Fisher. UF has lost more games in the last two years than he has in five, and he’s won a National title and has a good chance of winning a second straight. Sign me up for that kind of production. Let’s hope McElwain comes close to losing only ten games in five years.

  16. James Fisher, actually Jimbo’s eight year contract makes me really happy. When Winston leaves and “Coach Fish” returns to being a mere mortal, it’s going to cost halfassu a fortune to pay him off no send him away. I’ve met the guy, he’s a good coach, but not the brightest bulb on the porch…lol.

  17. Fisher has had two good years- prior to that Nole fans wanted him out. I have a feeling Oregon is going to roll them( and hopefully they will) . If that happens his one national championship isn’t going to keep fans happy forever. Yes, Stan he does sound like Mickey Mouse when he talks- it is quite funny listening to him talk.

  18. Coach Mac will have an offensive Gator attack, again, with Florida Football.
    The last time Florida got a Head Coach from out West (Meyer), and/or with an OFFENISIVE MINDSET (Spurrier) the UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA -WON- 3 NATIONAL TITLES, and PLAYED for 4 in all. So, let’s do this! It is so past time to get this thing rolling! GO GATORS!

  19. I like the hires so far. Hope possibly t rob and lawing will be retained. Sounds like coach mac has a good feeling on new recruits that we dont know about their intent yet, but I like the sound of it. With the players we will have returning and a couple good recruit ready to play, I think e will be fine next season. Looking forward to a good 10 win season. naysayers leave town. We dont need ya anyway… GO GATORS

  20. Think Big Mac is in a difficult situation, he and Muschamp said recruiting is about relationships, as personable as Mac is he doesn’t have a lot of time for the 2015 class to establish that. From what I’ve read he’s done a wonderful job, but coaches from other teams have been at it a year or longer. That’s an uphill battle at best… But that isn’t stopping Big Mac….

  21. Mac is a confident guy and enthusiasm sells. He conveys a conviction about being at Florida. Again, those five-star and top four-star prospects have kept UF on their lists despite consecutive disappointing seasons, the termination of the head coach they knew and the search for his replacement. It indicates their interest is greater in being Gators and going to school at UF than it was in Muschamp. Given McElwain’s personal appeal and his significant first hires, surly signals that Florida ‘a heading in a needed new direction, these first-tier players’ continuing interest is understandable. Everything suggests our new coach is going to close strongly and pull a really promising first class out if the fire. No worries, mates!

  22. What is the early enrollment deadline? I am thinking that if anyone wants to enroll early, they have to make a decision this week. I know the tight end that was the first guy to pledge to McElwain is one, are there any others and will UF get someone else, like Merrick?

  23. I am anxious to see which recruits are seriously considering this wonderful opportunity to get in on the ground floor of UF’s next great championship run team! Unfortunately, you have to pay subscriptions to websites that track and report our player contacts. If anyone knows which players have been contacted and are showing interest in UF (other than those identified on this website), please post this information here (for those of us who are unable to afford website subscriptions). I think Coach Mac and his staff will bring us a good (possibly excellent) crop of recruits. The eastern division of the SEC has exposed itself as being weaker than in past years. The silver lining to the close of the Muschamp era is that we have the opportunity to quickly ascend to the top of the heap in the East. Pray for and support our coaching staff and our fine football team – may 2015 be an excellent year! GO GATORS!!!

  24. We will be a sub .500 team for 3 straight years. These big time recruits will not attend UF. Cowart, Jefferson, Ivey, etc are all gone….forget about it. This recruiting season is lost. We have NO QBs on the roster that fit this offense…..we have no chance to sign one this year either. COwart, Ivey, Holland, Jefferson, Merrick, Phillips forget it they are not coming. We are going have 2 and 3 star players and we will be lucky to fill out 25 schollys. McIllwain is not a miracle worker….the offense is atrocious and will be for 3 years. 2016-2017 is the only chance to start the rebuild and by the the fans of Gator nation will have run Coach Jim out of town. Expect 2 or 3 losing seasons at best to start off.

  25. This has nothing to do with anything we are talking about right now, with the exception that I really like DC and OC hires. Primo, you are any expletive that you choose, cause I don’t want to get in trouble.

  26. News this morning from Raleigh News&Oberver, Jeff Driskel has cleared Duke with paperwork as one of several schools he is considering for his final year of eligibility. Just a little Gator football note while our Gatorsports guys take well-earned break before the onslaught of hot news begins: Gator bowl game, staff hires and departures, recruiting rumors, hits and misses, plus resumption of basketball season. Buckle up! It’s about to get exciting and will provide lots of fodder for debate.

  27. Hey Greg and Mark T, I might add that 5 SEC teams combined for the 9 BCS Championships won by the conference. Add Tennessee to the list who won the first BCS title in ’98 over fsu in fact. LSU won a second one in 2003 also. In the 16 year history of the BCS, the SEC won 9 championships among 5 different teams. The REST OF THE COUNTRY won 7 championships.

  28. I don’t agree. UF is not a bad team now and if a quarterback is developed, they could be a good team. There are pieces to build on. Taylor can become a better back. Powell looks like he will be a matchup problem and brings speed, something that has been lacking in the Gator’s backfield. Robinson can become a great receiver. The offensive line can be better, there are two tackles that may be able to play, Johnson and Sharpe, and maybe UF will get Ivey, who is supposedly good enough to play immediately. UF just needs to develop a center and a guard since Thurman is coming back. Maybe one of the other receivers will finally step up. The secondary looks to be as good as anyone’s. If Bullard comes back and some younger players improve, the defensive line can be pretty good. If Morrison returns, the linebackers will have something to build on. It’s not to much to expect UF to be able to win eight games, not a great season, but not a losing one either. It’s not like the East is filled with great teams. I don’t think UF will win the East, but I don’t see UF being that far way from doing so, especially if the five year drought of having a good quarterback ends. I know Muschamp is blamed for all Florida’s ills, but it’s hard to win without a good quarterback. It’s a miracle UF won eleven games with Jeff Driskel at the helm, that was a heck of a coaching job. If McElwain can find a quarterback, UF won’t have a losing season. He said he could win with his dog at quarterback, which was a pretty bold statement. Let’s see if he can back up his talk. There has been no lack of big talk coming out of Gainesville, remember Hargreaves telling everyone that Driskel was the best quarterback in America? It’s time for the Gators to shut up and let their play on the field communicate how good UF is.

  29. The Best QB in NCAA History vs a short armed tFr & losey WR’s.
    The immaculate strong-armed Cook vs Could be good K.Taylor.
    A defense (#2 SEC) that could possibly be good.
    @ #4 Undefeated ACC-C FSU 24 – 19 Crappy loser 6-5 UF….

    So yeah, I see what you mean….. LMAO!

  30. Rumor Mill, combined with my own wishes/speculations…. ;~)

    Driskel’s paperwork has cleared Duke for a possible Grad xfer.
    Harris to xfer back to Clown-U as Shameous-light, or back home to the scUM thugs of Mi-Am-I.
    Grier, Parade PoY, with McElwain/Nussmeier’s coaching/scheme, to write a new UF/SEC/NCAA Record Book.

  31. For all of the comments about the UF not having a “good” QB, how do you know we don’t have a “good” QB? My thoughts are that Treon was NEVER developed because Muschamp wanted so badly for Driskel to succeed that he actually didn’t take the time with anyone else to be prepared when Jeff just really couldn’t prove to be good enough after all these years. The same thing happened to the other QB’s that left they were nwver really given enough time to show if they had it or the attention to develop. I want to see Treon after a full spring and summer camp. It is obvious the the kid from North Carolina Day was not going to get a chance either, because he started during the Spring and he was behind Treon after Summer camp, so you know he needed development . Let’s not Down Treon until he is given a Fair chance at being developed and time to learn coach Mac’s system. Give this kid at least HALF the time Driskel was awarded. Go GATORS!!!!

  32. I’m never going to be aboard with Seminole nation but I want everyone to stop leaving in a freaking fantasy world thinking we are going to lock up every remaining 5 and 4 star player remaining…..flip the rest and go from 76 in recruiting rankings to top 10. Most Gator fans expect overnight success. It won’t happen and McIlwain needs 5 years minimum to turn this around. So sit down, shut up and let the guy do his job, until then expect 2 or 3 losing seasons. Treon Harris will NEVER be the QB to lead his style offense. Do your homework and you will see. He pulled off a miracle at CSU but even that took 3 years. But 1st of all it wasn’t against SEC competition and 2nd he was given the time to do so…..something Gator fans have very little patience for.

  33. @ Primo, coach Mac said that he could win with his “dog”, I would bet your “As…” that Treon is better than his “dog”. I’m not someone who thinks this will be a championship team next year but they will be competitive and and it WON”T take 5 to 6 years to get back to a championship caliber TEAM. GO GATORS!!!!

  34. Anyone who believes that Harris ‘beat-out’ Grier for the job is either ignorant or delusional. There were ‘other’ reasons for Grier’s redshirt. It’s like claiming that Grier never went against Top HS competition in NC, while ignoring his #2 QB-DT Elite 11 performance against the best HS defenders in the nation. It’s like some calling Grier weak or physically underdeveloped while ignoring their comparative size.

    QB-DT Will Grier 6-2 200 4.55/40 ***** Parade HS PoY
    3 Year HS Career Rushing – 2,955 yds, 31 TD’s, only 7 LPF’s. (weak huh?)

    QB-DT Treon Harris 5-11 190 4.6/40 **** 2x FL 4A State Champs
    3 Year HS Career Rushing – 2,344 yds, 42 TD’s, ?? LPF’s
    * Their arm strengths and passing numbers are not even close….
    QB Treon will (or should) xfer out imoho. That or change positions to RB/WR/Wildcat.
    Luckly, which (if either) of them to spend the time to develop is for Mc-Nuss to decide. ;~)

  35. da-muddler, you started off your post like you “KNEW” what you were talking about,but after you expressed your opinion about Grier not being beat out by Harris all of the rest of your post was just opinion. Just because your opinion is not agreeable with others doesn’t make them “delusional or ignorant”. It makes you ignorant because you don’t think others have an opinion that is creditable. Take a few minutes and tell us the “FACTS” about why Grier was not Beaten out by Harris. You are a big one for staatistics but that does not always make you the better player. Like the “FACT” the Griers competition in NC was as tough as Harris opponents. You have time, go ahead we are listening. If you are going to just give us more statistics or more of your opinion don’t bother, because we all have opinions and nne of them may be correct. GO GATORS!!!!

  36. Fully agrre with you Kerrdog, and thats where it should be settled “on the field” not with character assasination or statistics from high school. “live Action” and may the best among them be the choice and a gamer for the UF, supportive of the winner and ready to play when his time comes. GO GATORS!!!!