football Edit

On the Mark: Has the tide turned as Florida goes on a recruiting roll

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* Visit to Florida helped Gators with four-star

* UM commit has interesting things to say about UF

* Dunlap looks forward to blocking for Corral

* Florida felt like home for four-star Chase

* Florida in the running for Rivals100 lineman

* Video Analysis: What Corral's pledge means

* Twitter reaction to Corral's commitment

* Corral one of the biggest offensive gets for the Gators in a decade

* FREE ACCESS UNTIL THE MICHIGAN GAME

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When his first full class was well below Florida standards, it was fashionable among media and the Florida faithful to deem head coach Jim McElwain as a below average recruiter.

After all, while a 14th ranked recruiting class in 2016 might be cause for celebration at 99% of the DI programs playing college football - at Florida it has fans and media scratching their collective heads wondering what the issue may be and how does it get fixed.

To begin with, part if it was that McElwain wasn't exactly a name hire.

To be fair, Florida hiring him certainly didn't make the same splash as say Michigan tabbing Jim Harbaugh for the Wolverines' head coaching gig.

As an example, when Inside the Gators did our Recruit Reaction to Florida's hiring of McElwain, the most common response given by prosects was "Who?" followed by "I don't know anything about him."

That wasn't unexpected.

What he had helped accomplish in Tuscaloosa as Alabama's offensive coordinator was ancient history as far as 16-17 year-olds were concerned. For the past couple of years he was up at Colorado State, hardly a media mecca, and while there rarely crossed paths with the level of prospects Florida recruits while out on the recruiting trail.

So, perhaps he deserved somewhat of a pass for that very first class. After all, if you aren't a big name that "wows" a prospect, then it becomes more and more about building a relationship with them. Allowing them get to know you on a personal level in order to find that comfort zone.

Therefore, if he deserved somewhat of a pass for the first class, the next one will surely be better.

However, even after winning the SEC East in his first season, and all the accolades that comes with that achievement, Florida's recruiting struggles continued well into the 2017 recruiting cycle.

At that point, regardless of how big of a homer you are, there is genuine cause for concern.

When in the fall of last year Florida's two highest rated pledges, cornerback Elijah Blades and defensive tackle Fred Hansard decommited from the Gators, concern turned into outright panic.

Well into January it appeared as though Florida was on the verge of signing another subpar class by Gators' standards.

Then, on Signing Day the clouds parted, the seas calmed and what was a rough ride turned into smooth sailing.

In a furious finish, that was one for the ages Florida inked six top targets in moving up from #17 to #9 in the Rivals Recruiting Rankings.

That led many to believe that the tide had turned.

Florida was on the verge of returning to their rightful place atop the Rivals Team Recruiting Rankings.

Then the reality of recruiting set in.

For much of this spring and summer, while rivals such as LSU, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida State - programs Florida competes against on the field yearly - were reeling in top prospects and rising up the recruiting rankings, Florida was in a death spiral.

Their ranking was mired back in the 30s, 40s, and yikes, even the 50s.

Last Monday, July 17th, after four-star safety C.J. Smith decommitted, Florida was ranked #58 in the team recruiting rankings.

With just under half of the recruiting cycle in the books, the Gators' class was actually ranked below the likes of SMU, Temple, BYU and Purdue.

Did I say "Yikes?"

I mean "What in the ___"

Then a couple of things happened.

* Florida's coaching and support staff members started returning from summer vacations and we started to get a clearer look at who would be attending Friday Night Lights.

* Four-star Curtis Dunlap made a surprise announcement while four-star Kyle Pitts made a scheduled announcement. Both had the same result - they were Florida Gators and the momentum started to build.

When ITG released its Friday Night Lights Preview on Friday it was titled Friday Night Lights Revival for a reason.

For several years now there has been a need to call for Dr. Kevorkian to come do the deed. Put this out-dated, overly antiquated, dinosaur out of its misery.

It had seemingly outlived its usefulness. Prospects weren't coming in in droves like they had back during its inception.

Then, this year happened.

Top target after top target came in. Commitment after commitment rolled in (and there could be a couple more on the way), and even those who didn't commit still had great things to say.

The buzz words most often used by prospects in attendance were "family" and "comfortable."

That is basically Jim McElwain and Florida football at the present time.

He wasn't fast out of the gate because he doesn't possess a splashy type of persona.

What he is is a genuine, caring individual who isn't going to "wow" many prospects, so it takes longer to get to know him, and as they do, they seem to like what they find.

The proof is in the pudding.

Look at what happened this weekend.

Many, myself included, thought that last year's Signing Day haul was simply an abberation.

It wouldn't be duplicated.

We (I) were wrong.

Not only was the Florida staff able to match that incredible haul, they surpassed it by adding the likes of Matt Corral and Ja'Marr Chase to go with Dante Lang and Randy Russell.

In doing so Florida moved up an astounding 46 spots (from #58 to #12) over the last six days.

And as future prospects have the time to get to know McElwain and his staff in order to build those ever important relationships, it feels as though this is just the beginning of a much longer run, over several recruiting cycles rather than a one time thing.

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THIS PAST WEEK
PROSPECT RIVALS RATING STARS POINTS

Matt Corral

6.1

225

Randy Russell

5.6

75

Dante Lang

5.6

75

Kyle Pitts

5.8

117

Curtis Dunlap

5.8

105

Ja'Marr Chase

5.8

143

AVERAGE

5.8

740/123.3

** 3.83 STAR AVERAGE
LAST SIGNING DAY
PROSPECT RIVALS RATING STARS POINTS

Brian Edwards

5.8

113

James Robinson

5.9

137

Tedarrell Slaton

5.9

147

Lacedrick Brunson

5.3

30

CJ Henderson

5.8

112

Adarius Lemons

5.8

105

AVERAGE

5.75

644/107.3

** 3.67 STAR AVERAGE