Expanding Florida’s support staff was one of the first things Jim McElwain crossed off his agenda after taking over the football program.
McElwain increased the number of quality control specialists and graduate assistants, then beefed up the recruiting office.
Prior to McElwain’s arrival, director of player personnel Drew Hughes had quite a workload as he coordinated UF’s recruiting efforts.
He remains at Florida in the same capacity, but McElwain brought in additional staff members to assist him and the coaches.
Associate director of player personnel Kevin Barbay followed McElwain from Colorado State as well as director of football administration Deidra Church. The Gators also now have several program assistants who help with recruiting, including secondary coach Kirk Callahan’s younger brother Casey Callahan.
“I think people are starting to see the value of exactly what the roles are,” McElwain said. “Within the organization itself, we’re still behind a lot of schools in our conference (with the support staff). And yet, the value of those guys and what they bring everyday to work … they do an outstanding job. And I tell you what, we’re grateful to have them.”
Barbay appeared on McElwain’s radio show to discuss his role and the responsibilities of the recruiting personnel.
“All those guys, kind of what they do is they each have their (recruiting) area they go out and look at,” Barbay said. “Those guys bring it back in and say, ‘I found this guy down in Miami. Take a look at him.’ Then we bring it to the coach and he takes a look at him in person. Then it really becomes interesting.
“In recruiting, it’s not just all about popping the film on and seeing if this guy can run really fast. We do our homework and the assistant coaches have to do a great job of going out and finding the character of this kid. They meet with principals, coaches, parents. They really do an extensive background check on what type of kid we’re bringing here to the University of Florida.”
UF’s 2016 class is currently ranked No. 12 by Scout and No. 13 by Rivals. The Gators had a top-25 finish in the 2015 recruiting cycle after being ranked as low as 92nd nationally.
While rankings are often indicative of Florida’s recruiting success, McElwain and his support staff don’t focus on them.
“We get a kick out of recruiting rankings,” McElwain said. “Who are the guys that are rating these kids? One of them might be a mailman. It isn’t about the stars. We have critical factors at each position that we evaluate. We certainly don’t recruit off the star system.
“Our guys work tirelessly. They work longer than a lot of the coaches because of the need for that. Recruiting is one of those things that becomes your lifeblood. We’ve got a lot of great things to sell here. That’s the beauty of the University of Florida.”
Barbay said McElwain, his assistant coaches and the support staff have roundtable discussions about prospects to make their evaluations and determine their recruiting board.
“It’s not something one person makes the call on,” Barbay said. “We all go around the room and rank (recruits) as a staff. Everybody is involved and everybody gives their opinion. We have very in-depth discussions.
“There’s a lot more that people probably realize that goes into recruiting. If everyone knew all the details that someone like Deidra Church has to pay attention to every single day, you’d be really impressed with the pride we take in bringing kids to the University of Florida.”