McElwain now a known commodity on recruiting trail

Jim McElwain is getting recognition on the recruiting trail. (Matt Stamey/Staff photographer)

Jim McElwain no longer needs a name tag when he’s visiting the high schools of football recruits.

The Florida coach and his staff hit the road early last week and attended several games Friday.

It was McElwain’s first experience out recruiting since the end of the 2015 cycle when he took over the UF program. At the time, McElwain wasn’t a big-name coach despite his track record and hadn’t recruited the state of Florida since 2011.

With his team off to a 6-1 start, leading the SEC East race and ranked No. 11, the recruiting trail was much different for McElwain this time around.

“Before you’d roll into a school and they really said, ‘You’ve got to show your ID.’ They didn’t know who the heck you were,” McElwain said. “They thought I was kidding when I said I was the head coach at Florida. Now there’s a couple more people that know, which is a good thing for us.

“The reception was outstanding. We’re making some inroads and still need to obviously in a lot of areas, but recruiting is your lifeline. We’ve got to get better at it.”

Florida’s 2016 class is currently ranked 12th nationally by Rivals and Scout. The Gators are in the running for about 10 prospects in the Rivals100 alone, including five-star wide receiver Nate Craig-Myers.

Craig-Myers received a visit Friday night from McElwain, and his assistant coaches saw several of UF’s top targets last week to find “the right Gators.”

“When you get to recruiting, it’s not only about discovering the great players, but also the ones that fit,” McElwain said. “Seeing them go play and practice, you’re able to look at some fatal flaws where you’re like, ‘Maybe not on this guy’ or ‘Yes on that guy.’ Our guys did a great job of hustling and getting around to a lot of places.”