While Florida has found ways to win on the field with Jim McElwain at the helm, some would say that they’ve been doing it with inferior talent. While that shows that the staff is great at coaching up kids, it also shows that they’re probably working harder to do so. In McElwain’s first recruiting class he was only on the job since December so the No. 21 overall class and No. 10 class in the SEC (according to the 247Sports Composite) are forgiven by most fans.
The next year, McElwain signed a class ranked No. 12 nationally and No. 6 in the SEC. Of course, that’s pretty darn good, but SEC football fans always want more. As it stands now, Florida’s class for 2017 is No. 24 nationally and No. 9 in the SEC behind cellar-dwellers like South Carolina and Kentucky.
ESPN’s Derek Tyson talked to several high school coaches in Florida to figure out what exactly is going wrong with Florida on the recruiting trail and many are saying it’s a talent identification problem. This is what Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) assistant coach Gerard Ross had to say:
“From what I can see, they have to do a better job of identifying the younger studs and kind of lovin’ on those guys really early the way the other big dogs do like Florida State, Alabama, Ohio State. They identify those young kids pretty early on and do a good job making sure that ‘hey man, we love you, we want you to come here.’ From my experience and how [Florida has] been around us, they tend to wait until that kid has those big-time, Power 5 offers and then they try to sneak in.”
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That particular theory was supported by Randy Wade, father of five-star cornerback Shaun Wade who ended up choosing Ohio State over the Gators. He said that the family really liked Florida and the only reason the Gators missed out on him was because they didn’t get on him soon enough. Ohio State had a coach recruiting him all the way back in 10th grade.
“Florida did everything they needed to do … I really felt sorry when Shaun called (McElwain) to tell him he was not coming. In Shaun’s recruitment I just felt Florida should have hit us up more so we could have told them earlier Shaun really didn’t want to stay in-state or recruited him earlier so we would have initially picked Florida first instead of picking OSU because they recruited us from the very beginning.”
Armwood High School coach Sean Callahan — father of former assistant coach Kirk — called out Florida by saying that they should be getting any assistant coach they want who can both coach and recruit. He’s referring to the fact that the Gators are down two assistants because of other guys leaving to take jobs and thinks there’s no reason why Florida shouldn’t have filled those positions by now to have a full staff recruiting right before National Signing Day.
[h/t Saturday Down South]