With national signing day for high school football players less than a month away, the Florida Gators are way behind the eight ball with only eight players currently committed despite having the ability to sign over 25 in this class.
New head coach Jim McElwain has been handcuffed having barely had two weeks to meet with recruits before the recruiting dead period began. In his words, he hit the ground running visiting over a dozen top prospects, some uncommitted and some previously committed to other teams. By all reports, he made a favorable impression on most if not all the prospects he visited.
“From a national standpoint and a recruiting standpoint, we’ve gotten great feedback about what we’re doing and how we’ve gone about doing it,” McElwain said. “We’ve gotten great buzz and yet time will tell as we move forward on that end of it.”
When the dead period ends on January 15th, Coach Mac will have three weekends to try to convince as many of these top prospects as possible to trust his vision for the future of Gator football and play for him in Gainesville.
“Now, you have to understand the way recruiting is, McElwain said. “We’re trying to catch up a bit. I get it. We’ve got a lot of ground to make up. These next two weeks are going to be crucial for us to make a dent.”
Considering that the troubles previous head coach Will Muschamp had were on the offensive side of the ball, it makes sense that this would be a major focus of recruiting this cycle. In a year when the state of Florida is loaded with top offensive skill talent, the Gators were expected to clean up in-state. The lack of offensive success combined with the instability of the coaching staff left the Gators on the outside looking in for most of their top skill position targets.
Previously we looked at the Gators quarterback recruiting board. Today we look at the three players at the top of the Gators running back wish list.
To this point the Gators do not have a running back committed, but with two good ones returning in junior Kelvin Taylor and redshirt sophomore Adam Lane, the MVP of the Birmingham Bowl, it’s not their biggest priority. It is a priority, however, because one, you can never have enough good backs (ask Georgia), and two, there’s a good likelihood that Kelvin Taylor leaves after next season if the new staff can produce anywhere close to what they did with Alabama.
With Ray Ray McCloud a solid commitment to Clemson, there are three guys the Gators are actively recruiting at this point as running backs.
First is a guy that was at the top of the previous staff’s RB board as well: Dexter Williams from Winter Garden, Florida. He had previously committed to Miami but recently decommitted. He has been in contact with Coach Mac and there has been some talk he may try to take a visit to Florida but nothing has been set up at this point.
“I actually talked with Coach McElwain but he said we could get into more after the dead period,” Williams told 247Sports’ Nate Adelson in a story by Luke Stampini. “He wants me to have a chance at taking an official visit up there.”
While the timing of his decommitment coinciding with contact from Coach Mac was likely just plain coincidental, Florida does continue to hold a majority of the crystal ball votes on 247sports. He’s also considering Notre Dame and Louisville.
Another prospect the Gators are actively recruiting continues to be committed to Miami but it could be a matter of time before he flips his commitment. Jordan Scarlett from St. Thomas Aquinas in Ft. Lauderdale has been committed to the Canes since July but recently scheduled a visit to Florida after McElwain visited him right before the start of the dead period.
“He’s a great guy,” Scarlett said of McElwain according to Luke Stampini of 247sports. “He’s a people person and he just wanted to tell me there is a place for me at Florida.”
“I have a Florida visit in January, right after the dead period,” Scarlett added.
With Williams more likely to either Louisville or Notre Dame, Scarlett is probably the top guy on the Gators RB board at this point. While remaining publicly committed to Miami, signs point to him being very impressed with Coach Mac and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier and what they were able to accomplish at Alabama in terms of the running back position. What this means is there’s a strong possibility he could flip to the Gators after his official visit.
Miami fans as well as some analysts who cover the Canes are already suggesting he’s silently committed or is likely to flip to the Gators by signing day.
Ariz is the publisher of CaneInsight.com.
The final prospect at the top of the Gators RB board is Jordan Cronkite from Westminster Christian in Miami. Cronkite, like Scarlett, didn’t receive a lot of attention from the previous staff but has been in contact with the new staff and appears to be impressed with the newfound attention.
“Coach McElwain is definitely making me feel like more of a priority because the last staff didn’t really talk to me much but Coach McElwain reached out to me right when he got the job,” Cronkrite said according to Andrew Spivey of Gatorcountry.com. “It made me feel good about them but I just need to get them around my parents.”
Cronkite is still in the process of finalizing his last three visits but definitely wants to take a visit to Florida.
“I’m scheduled to go to Louisville on January 16th but I’m not sure about that one anymore,” Cronkrite said. “If I don’t go to Louisville on the 16th then I’m going to try and go to Florida then but if not I’ll go after the 16th. I have three visits left to take but I’m not sure on them right now.”
Like Scarlett, this recruitment trends more towards Florida by the day. Many recruiting analysts have long thought that if Florida offered, Cronkite would be a Gator. The offer is now there, it’s a matter of if he visits at this point.
Would the Gators take both Scarlett and Cronkite if they want in? With the Gators having as many as 27 scholarships to give and the likelihood of them filling all of them being low, I’d say there’s a good chance the staff would take any two of the three.