When former Florida assistant Travaris Robinson left for Auburn, it was a major blow to UF recruiting.
Robinson had been widely regarded as the school’s best recruiter and, as a Miami native, kept the Gators relevant in the talent-rich South Florida region.
Robinson accompanied Florida coach Jim McElwain on the majority of his initial recruiting visits, and his departure was expected to hurt McElwain’s efforts in the 2015 cycle.
McElwain and his assistants put together a top-25 class in little time, adding 15 of their 21 prospects in the final week and a half.
Seven of the 11 in-state prospects who joined the class late were from South Florida.
“I think we answered some things from all kind of corners of the state, and that’s a good thing,” McElwain said on signing day. “Whether it be up in the panhandle, whether it be in this mid‑section or whether it’s down in the Miami area, I think our guys worked their tail off getting out there and getting to as many places as we could and breaking some doors down. So that’s a real positive.”
McElwain said in December the Tampa area was one he wanted to “take back,” but the most immediate and impressive recruiting results have come in South Florida.
UF signed a trio of four-star offensive prospects — wide receiver Antonio Callaway and running backs Jordan Cronkrite and Jordan Scarlett, a lifelong Florida State fan and former Hurricanes commitment who wanted nothing to do with a Gators when the previous staff was in place.
“We got our playmaker that we were looking for when we were able to go down into Miami, so that was really exciting,” McElwain said of Callaway. “Obviously (Cronkrite and Scarlett) are good running backs, right. And you know, any research you’ve done, I’m not real big on just a guy carrying it 40 times. I believe you need to have a one‑, two‑ and three‑punch when you’re going in there.
“I really like the way these guys interacted and understood how they can help each other and push each other through competition to be better.”
With area recruiter Randy Shannon leading the charge, Florida landed two Miami defenders for 2016 on Wednesday and should have a chance at several more this year.
“Well, obviously Randy is a guy that everybody knows and has been down in that area for a long time,” McElwain said of the former Miami coach. “And yet, as we took all the coaches down different positions, I felt that we did a great job down there.
“That’s in an area where, when Florida was really rolling, they were getting guys from, and they were getting the right kind of guys from there. That’s an area that we’re going to continue to go back to.”