It’s is why recruiting is so important. And, with as many championships as Alabama has won lately, all with supreme talent, McElwain is trying to emulate the best, so he can eventually beat the best, to be the best.
The top flight 120-yard practice facility is nice. The gussied up dorms for the athletes are actually worth showing to prospective athletes now. The secondary support staff is probably doing more things than we can ever count at this moment. And all of those things are done to help the current players and to get better players to come. But, none of it is worth it if you don’t get the better players.
That is why this particular signing class and what the staff seems to have already done on the recruiting trail is so important. The Gators signed three junior college prospects this week to Letters of intent and they will be on campus in January to play football. Two of the three they beat Alabama for, one they flipped from the current pillar of college football just this week.
Another prospect that is expected to sign in February, enroll in June, and lives in Alabama, has been committed to a Florida for a while now and in the last month was offered by Alabama. Yesterday he tweeted that he is done with recruiting and the only place he will officially visit in January is the Gators.
Things are starting to roll downhill really early in the Jim McElwain era. He and his staff are doing a great job of identifying top talent early and then going after it.
In the form of junior college running back Mark Thompson, the Gators were on him earlier than most. Thompson is a big sturdy back with speed. Physically and attribute wise, if you drew up what McElwain and company were looking for, it would be Thompson.
Tim Skipper deserves the credit for this one. The running back coach at Florida eyeballed Thompson early and got him committed. It was later that Alabama came knocking and as always the invite from the Crimson Tide is intriguing. Thompson was actually set to make a visit to Alabama just last weekend, but inevitably cared too much for his Gator commitment and cancelled that visit. He has signed his letter of intent with Florida and will enroll in January.
While we are on the running backs, let’s move over to Lamical Perine. The senior from Theodore (AL) came to camp at Florida and was impressive to Skipper and the staff. They made the move early and even though he had an impressive junior season behind him there wasn’t a whole lot of action on Perine from other big time schools.
That all changed when he basically duplicated his junior season again as a senior and schools like Alabama really started focusing on Perine. Being in-state, Alabama is a huge draw for prospects like Perine and when they offered he looked. But, he never wilted to any pressure and never changed waivered on his pledge to Florida a bit. Skipper and the staff stayed on him hard and he recently tweeted that he was done with recruiting and will remain committed to Florida without officially visiting the Crimson Tide.
This week Florida got more big news when their top kicking target Eddy Pineiro decided he would give up his commitment to Alabama and instead sign with the Gators. Signing a kicker was a huge priority for the Florida staff and they eyeballed Pineiro from the summer as the main guy.
Florida was the first to offer Pineiro, a junior college prospect from Miami’s ASA Community College. He actually camped at Alabama in June and wowed their staff, then came to Florida the next day without working out and was offered anyway.
A couple of days later, Alabama would offer and although he really liked what the Gators had to offer, that Alabama trip really weighed on him and he quickly committed to the Crimson Tide.
From June on, Pineiro remained committed to Alabama until this week. After returning from his official visit in Tuscaloosa over the weekend and his second long visit there during the fall, Pineiro de-committed on Monday.
On Wednesday he held a ceremony to announce a new decision and with Florida on him hard form the beginning and showing him the big need he flipped that commitment to the Gators. It was another big win for Florida.
The Gators also have three other prospects from the state of Alabama committed at this time. Linebacker Jeremiah Moon and safety Jeawon Taylor are both four-star prospects and big time in their own right. Three star defensive back Tony Nelson recently committed from the Yellow Hammer State as well. The Gators have really worked hard in the state of Alabama to help them in the future.
They hope to not be done yet.
Tip linebacker prospect Lyndell ‘Mack’ Wilson is a high priority for the Gators and continues to maintain that Florida is in the lead for his services. The number two ranked inside linebacker on Scout is another Florida-Alabama battle with Georgia recently getting in the mix. This one is likely to go down to the wore as Wilson may not make a public decision until signing day, but the Florida staff has to currently like where they are at with this one.
Jim McElwain understands that to reach the top of the mountain, you are going to have to knock the guy at the top off the mountain. In order to do that, you are going to have to win some of these recruiting battles with the king of the mountain. And that seems to be what they are doing.