Recruiting has been near the top of Jim McElwain’s priority list since he took over as Florida’s head coach last month.
Now that he’s made contact with dozens of prospects and announced all but one of his staff hires, McElwain’s next objective is turning many of the recruiting relationships he’s initiated into verbal commitments.
“Obviously first and foremost, our recruiting (is top priorty),” McElwain said Wednesday. “I’ve hired some outstanding coaches that bring value to the positions that they coach, as well as some history within the SEC and this part of the country. We’ve got to shore that up. We’re not going to hit home runs all the time.
“I think part of the infrastructure is how we go about our identification, making sure we don’t make critical mistakes or fatal flaws at certain positions in which we’re recruiting and those aren’t just playing the game. Those are making sure they’re the right fit for what we’re gonna accomplish here at Florida. That’s kind of where we’re at from that standpoint. We’ve gotten great buzz and yet time will tell as we move forward on that end of it.”
The Gators currently have eight verbal commitments in the 2015 class, which has scholarship room for 28 signees at this time. McElwain was asked to elaborate on the “buzz” he’s receiving on the recruiting trail.
“From a national standpoint and a recruiting standpoint, we’ve got great feedback on what we’re doing and how we’re going about doing it,” he said. “A lot of it becomes relationships and trust. We’re not going to get every target we have. But you know what, maybe in some cases there might be a reason that it’s maybe a better fit somewhere else.
“So I know the guys that we are going to sign are really going to be good players, they’re going to be guys that are committed to be a part of something special and a resurgence. I’m looking forward to that.”
With signing day (Feb. 4) less than a month away, the success of Florida’s recruiting class will hinge on how well McElwain and his assistants can build relationships with their targets. The Sun spoke to a handful of Under Armour All-Americans last week who said they like the new direction of UF’s football program, but getting to know the coaches will be key for them.
McElwain knows he has his work cut out for him in this recruiting cycle.
“You’ve got to understand the way recruiting is now,” he said. “We’re trying to catch up a little bit from behind. I get it. I didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday. I’ve been doing this for a while. We’ve got a lot of ground to make up, so this next two weeks is obviously going to be crucial to us making a dent.
“But you know what, when we took the job we knew that … it’s going to take a while. I’m not real patient by nature, as you will find out over time, but at the same time I also understand that there’s a lot of things that need to be taken care of before we are successful on an everyday basis.”