McElwain emphasizes offensive line recruiting

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- There are multiple positions that need depth on the Florida roster, but none are more important than the offensive line.

The Gators graduate Trenton Brown, Max Garcia and Chaz Green from the offensive line. With the expected early departures to the NFL of D.J. Humphries and Tyler Moore plus Nolan Kelleher and Drew Sarvary having their careers end for medical reasons, the Gators will have only eight scholarship offensive lineman when the Gators start spring practice.

That’s the reason McElwain has spent so much time focusing on recruiting the position. The Gators have three current commitments on the offensive line -- Mike Horton, Tyler Jordan and Brandon Sandifer but need to add at least three or four more in this class.

When McElwain got on the road recruiting in his first week after taking the job, he spent his first day visiting offensive linemen Martez Ivey and Jalen Merrick. The position has become a priority in the 2015 class.

“We obviously need to create some depth at the offensive line,” McElwain said. “That’s pretty obvious, you guys see the roster. (Trying) to have practice next year, so that’s probably one that we gotta get taken care of. Really it’s (also) trying to get explosive playmakers at all he positions and ones that want to be Gators and really fit exactly what we want to get accomplished.”

The reception on the road has been positive early. McElwain had only one week to visit schools and prospects before the dead period started in the middle of December, but it didn’t take long for him to renew old relationships. He recruited the state of Florida as the offensive coordinator at Alabama and got to know some of the head coaches in the state, so heading back on the road was a time for him to restart old relationships and begin new ones.

The new Florida coach is optimistic about recruiting with his coaching staff, which a majority of should be announced in the next few days, but he won’t know for sure until next month.

“Well we’ll find out in February,” McElwain said with a grin. “The brand that is the University of Florida carries a lot of clout and some of the success we’ve in had places we’ve been that’ll open doors. Previous relationships I’ve had in the state of Florida with all the years of recruiting down here have been beneficial.”

McElwain was asked about his message to recruits but joked that there’s a lot of them and he wasn’t willing to share any of his secrets now.

He still needs to make some additions to close out his coaching staff. Florida is expected to make multiple hires official this week, but it might not be the full staff at this point. McElwain didn’t give a clear answer about when his staff would be completed because the most important thing to him is finding the right group.

“We’ll make sure all the pieces fit,” McElwain said. “This is going to be a building process in the infrastructure for a long time to come. It doesn’t happen overnight. I’m talking about rebuilding a total organization, so that’s going to take some time.”

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