Jim McElwain and his staff continue to grow UF’s recruiting footprint.
McElwain’s first priority was locking up in-state talent, and the Gators are gradually getting there and have made huge strides in South Florida.
After having zero 2014 signees from Georgia, McElwain and his assistants nabbed five Peach State prospects in the 2015 class. They’ve since landed commitments from Alabama, Mississippi and Texas.
Now they’re looking to invade Louisiana.
UF running backs Tim Skipper, born and raised in New Orleans, paid a visit to his home state Tuesday to see Under Armour All-American cornerback Kristian Fulton from Metairie (La.) Rummel.
“It was great to see him,” Fulton said of Skipper’s visit. “It really shows that they want me to come to Florida. They have some DB commits but I’m still a priority for them, one of the top guys on their board. They reach out a lot so I feel like they’re really liking me.”
There’s a lot to like. Fulton, a top-50 overall prospect, is ranked the nation’s No. 3 cornerback by ESPN and Scout.
At 6-foot, 177 pounds with 4.4 speed, the Gators selling Fulton on their depth chart.
“They’re losing their top two corners, Vernon Hargreaves and Brian Poole,” Fulton said. “They feel like I could be the best candidate to fill one of those positions as a freshman. They told me I fit perfectly in their scheme.”
With the departures of Deiondre Porter and J.C. Jackson, Florida only returns three cornerbacks next year but it has four recruits committed at the position.
The possibility for playing time has increased Fulton’s interest.
“It’s real big,” he said. “There’s a real high value to being at Florida. You look at all the great defensive backs that have came through there. It’s just great to know that I can come in and play at a top program in the country so early.”
The 6-1 start to the 2015 season has helped restore UF as a top program. But even with the struggles in recent years, Fulton has always held the Gators in high regard.
“It’s not really a surprise to me that they’re winning games now,” Fulton said. “The defense has always been top notch, so that wasn’t really a problem. It wasn’t really the running game either, because they’ve had good backs. It was the quarterback play and coach McElwain has turned that around.”
Florida suffered its first loss of the season Saturday at LSU. The Gators and Tigers are considered Fulton’s top two teams, and he’s hoping for a rematch in Atlanta.
“It was great to see them go at it,” Fulton said. “Just two elite teams competing. Both of them have a chance to go to the SEC Championship, and that’s one thing I like about them. I want to play for championships wherever I go.”
When that will decided by Fulton remains to be seen. There’s no timetable for his commitment and he’s only taken trips to UF and LSU since July.
Fortunately for the Gators, he plans on making a return visit to Gainesville after his senior season.
“I don’t know where I’m going yet for officials, but Florida is going to get a visit. I know that,” Fulton said. “I’m not really sure of any other schools. I really liked Florida when I went in the summer, just seeing the campus and the football facilities. That was my first time and I can’t wait to get back.”
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