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Jan 2, 2017; Tampa , FL, USA; Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain claps prior to the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

McElwain, Gators Use Late Push to Haul in Top-10 Recruiting Class

Many Gator fans came into the week worried about the state of Florida’s 2017 recruiting class. After landing some big commitments though, the Gators ended up with a strong push on National Signing Day. Florida’s class of 23 commits, which includes five early enrollees and 18 commits is now up to ninth in the Rivals rankings. In addition, the class ranks 10th in the 247 and Scout rankings.

Head coach Jim McElwain said he’s excited for all of the guys who “chose to be Gators.”

Surprise Additions

The biggest surprise of the day had to be the landing of James Robinson, the 70th ranked player in the ESPN300 rankings. Robinson, a four-star receiver from Lakeland, Fla., was cited for marijuana possession during his official visit to Ohio State, and multiple reports indicated that the Florida administration had determined they could not take Robinson. Robinson himself tweeted out that he would not be signing on National Signing Day as an apparent result of the situation.

Instead, McElwain somehow landed him at the 11th hour. He said that the exciting thing is that now, Florida gets “an opportunity to be involved in his life.” The addition of Robinson, an Under Armour All-American, gives Florida two receivers in this class now, with the other being Daquon Green. Together, they could combine to make an explosive grouping along with returning starters Antonio Callaway and Tyrie Cleveland.

Another late addition to the class is that of four-star running back Adarius Lemons. Lemons used to be a Florida commit and was at one point ranked the number one running back in Florida. However, academic issues caused him to miss the latter half of his senior season at Clearwater High School and he de-committed.

With Lemons back on board, he combines with four-star running back Malik Davis from Jesuit High School in Tampa to give the Gators two commits at the position in this class.

Down in the Trenches

Earlier in the day, the Gators landed one of their biggest commitments in Army All-American offensive guard/defensive tackle Tedarrell Slaton from American Heritage. Slaton comes in as Florida’s highest-rated commit in the class according to Rivals, and is expected to play defensive tackle, something that he said before gave the Gators a good shot at landing him.

The Gators had targeted the defensive line as one of their main areas of need. Slaton joins Elijah Conliffe, Kyree Campbell, and Zach Carter as recruits on the defensive front.

DBU

Florida’s main area that they targeted was defensive back and they landed a couple of big recruits from South Florida in Chris Henderson and Brian Edwards.

Henderson found himself picking between Miami and UF, and during the last week had been considered a Miami lean. However, Florida kept recruiting him until the last minute and was able to snag the 6’1″ cornerback from Miami. Henderson comes in as a four-star recruit and another player in the ESPN300, at 131st.

Brian Edwards meanwhile used to actually be a Miami commit. He was leaning towards Miami pretty recently, but Florida lured him after his official visit to Gainesville. Edwards comes in as a four-star according to Rivals, and is the sixth defensive back in this class. He joins Henderson, Marco Wilson, Brad Stewart, Donovan Stiner, and Shawn Davis as recruits in the secondary.

McElwain said it was important to hit in this area to avoid having a depth issue.

Their recruitment also shows how well the Gators have done in-state this year. After being criticized for losing in-state battles to Florida State and Miami, the Gators bounced back. They ended up with the most top-50 players in the state of Florida.

Other recruits landed on Signing Day

Lacedrick Brunson- Three-star Linebacker; Miami, FL

About Jonathan Acosta

Native New Englander. Follow me on Twitter: @jonacosta_10

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