McElwain debut has ‘big impact’ on Craig-Myers

Nate Craig-Myers is impressed with Jim McElwain's product at Florida. (Photo by Chris Hays / Orlando Sentinel)

Florida’s season opener Saturday drew several top recruits, none bigger than Nate Craig-Myers.

The five-star wide receiver wanted to witness Jim McElwain’s debut.

“It was a great experience to get to see a new era and what coach McElwain is doing with the program,” Craig-Myers said. “I think they did a good job.”

UF put on a clinic offensively, finishing with 61 points and more than 600 yards. Craig-Myers wasn’t surprised by those numbers.

“I really did expect it,” he said. “Watching camp for the past couple weeks, I really felt like they were doing great things with the ball. They finally got the quarterback situation playing out now. It’s really good (as a recruit) to know that you’ll have a quarterback here for the next 3-4 years.”

It was also encouraging for him to watch a handful of true freshmen receive playing time on offense. As a whole, they accounted for 92 yards of offense and Craig-Myers took note of their contributions.

“Oh yeah, definitely,” he said. “You saw Antonio Callaway playing and a few more freshmen. It really made a big impact on me.”

McElwain has mentioned his ‘get-it-to’ call sheet and how he dials up plays to feature his best offensive weapons. All coaches talk about game planning for their playmakers, but Craig-Myers admires McElwain for carrying out those plans.

“He’s true to his word,” said the Tampa Catholic standout. “When he wants to make plays for a certain guy, he’s really going to do that. You saw it with Rashard Higgins at Colorado State. I think he’s trying to do that with Demarcus Robinson.

“He told me I could be a screen-type guy, a guy that gets a jet sweep. He told me I’ll do a lot of things in the offense if he can just put me on the field.”

McElwain could make that happen if he continues to impress Craig-Myers, a former Auburn commit who claims no leaders at this time. He said his brother’s UF commitment won’t impact his decision, which he plans to make Jan. 8 for his mother’s birthday.

“I’m looking for really just a home away from home, a family atmosphere,” Craig-Myers said. “I definitely feel like I’m a top priority for Florida. I think it’s going in the right direction, and it’s mutual feeling with me.”