It's no secret the Sunshine State has some of the best talent in the country.
McElwain and his staff have certainly made the state a priority. Last week, the Gators invaded the state to evaluate and check in with some of the best high school talent in the state and in the country.
"That’s first and foremost what you have to do to be successful," said McElwain. "The coaches at the other schools understand that too. Everyone recruits this state first and it’s something we’ll continue to do.
"Really when you look at it and the success and a lot of the really great players come from right here in the state of Florida," he added. “We try to do as good a job as we can do in our surrounding areas and try to get the ones that fit for us.”
McElwain and the Gators hoped to see over 300 high schools last week, and according to the head coach, the reception the team has been receiving has been great.
“According to the coaches and the way we’re blitzing areas — and then we’ll go back out and redo some solo stuff basically — it’s been fantastic,” he said. “The reception from the high school coaches in what we’re doing to open our doors to them is something that’s been really well-received.
“I think the biggest thing for us is to make sure we get them on our campus and they can see all the really good things that we have,” McElwain said. “And yet, it’s not for everybody. That’s just the way it is. But our emphasis is keeping the guys in-state. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Obviously a big piece of the puzzle is making sure the staff and the program is up to date on social networking.
"The social media piece itself and how people communicate now is totally different than when it first started." he said. "In our case, expanding and hiring new people in juts the social media part of it… we started basically a whole separate office and that’s what they do.
"That’s a new piece that wasn’t even around five years ago and yet, recruiting has changed and people communicate differently. I’m still a fan in some hand written notes and if they ever get read or not, I don’t know. At the same time there’s something pretty special about that too."
However, there are some changes happening in Gainesville that could also have a beneficial impact on recruiting.
"They wrote articles down here about guys that wouldn’t come because of our facilities right? We’re answering those, and that’s an exciting thing. Our administration understands how far behind we are and yet they’re willing to do something about it," said McElwain. "My biggest thing is not how fancy our office is, that means nothing. It’s about the things that touch the kids in their daily lives, anything that can help them be successful, not only on the field, but in the classroom and socially.
"Coming to the University of Florida… it’s not just about playing football, it’s about developing yourself and helping you be successful for the rest of your life. Those are the pieces that are coming together and Jeremy (Foley) and the University have been behind and understand how far we were just left behind.
McElwain is excited at some of the proposed changes.
"What we’ve been able to do is hit those spots and go ahead and really make a difference on the things that change the players’ lives. The only reason we exist is because of these players. That is the reason we have a job," McElwain added. "What we’ve done is hit it hard on things that directly touch them on a daily basis, our academic center, and the sports and nutrition piece. Obviously our dorms that needed it as bad as anything, and yet we’re still working on those and have another one going off-line this summer. Our new indoor practice facility and all of those things, again the things that touch the player’s lives on a daily basis, that’s what it’s really all about and it’s fun seeing it being built."