"First and foremost, I want to say how excited I am that they chose to join this family and be part of something great," said the Gators head coach at a press conference on Thursday. "In each of their cases as we went through the process and looking for the right fit, I think the important thing is making sure you’ve got the right fit for the organization and the guys in that organization. That’s something we hit a home run on."
McElwain introduced: Ja'Juan Seider (running backs coach), Brad Davis (offensive line coach) and Corey Bell (defensive backs coach) to the media. In the case of both Bell and Seider, the University of Florida is almost more of a home coming - with both coaches returning to a school they contemplated playing for in college.
“ I played in the SEC, and now I have an opportunity to be back in the SEC," said Bell, "and long story short, when coach [Charlie] Strong was here during his first stint, he recruited me. You know, and I actually committed here. And that was a long time ago, of course, but I always wanted to be a Gator. Now I have the opportunity to be that, so I took advantage of it."
Bell has strong South Florida ties, coaching not only the FAU secondary for two years, but also coaching at the University of Miami and at Miami Edison High School. Meanwhile Seider boasts his own connection to the state coaching at several South Florida high schools. In Seider's case, however, coaching at Florida is a dream finally realized.
"It feels surreal," said Seider. "I've been fortunate in my career to climb as fast as I have. But just going back to high school, like Corey I was a guy who was recruited by Florida when Spurrier was here with Charlie Strong, who was on his way to Notre Dame. I still remember it like yesterday. My high school was a big Florida Gator school -- Fred Taylor, Reidel Anthony, Johnny Rutledge, Louis Oliver, Jimmy Spencer. So as a kid you grew up watching Florida. You always had an affinity for the university. Fortunately for me, I had other plans. I went to West Virginia and it panned out for me. Had a chance to go back there and coach and had an opportunity to come here before under Mac when he first got the job. But I had a situation with my son that was more important at the time. I was at a great spot too, so it had to be right. It gave me a chance over these last couple years to get to know Mac and his staff and what the expectation was and the plan going forward for me to make this leap of faith. And then the thing that made it OK to come is the way they kept after me. They kept recruiting me with the guys on the staff and I felt like the time was right to come now and be part of this great university."
Although Davis is not from the Sunshine State, the new offensive line coach has already earned McElwain's confidence with his reputation.
"Brad is one of those guys as we were looking for that energy in that piece with that offensive line, he’s a name that kept coming up," said McElwain.
Davis has already set forth a game plan.
"The biggest thing right now for me is to get these guys to buy in to me," said Davis. "It's not really what I think of them. It's what they think of me. For me to get the best out of these guys, they have to 100 percent believe in me, buy in to me and really understand what my expectations are of them. Right now, my biggest challenge has been getting as close to my players as I possibly can. I've been investing time within the parameters that are allowed. Calling. Texting. Having them come by the office. Position meetings. Talking to them after workouts. Things of that nature. Really, really trying to get those guys to understand my passion for success. That's the biggest thing right now."
According to McElwain, Florida went through several candidates for each position, however, he sees three coaches that not only have the resume to back up their accomplishments but they are the right men to accomplish his goals.
“These are all guys, as you do the background check, are not independent contractors, but actually care about the players and care about developing them not only as players but as young men," said McElwain. "To a coach, as you talk to the guys and you do the background check and you call coaches that they’ve worked with and that kind of thing, that’s something that really resonated with us as these guys’ names came up.