Elijah Conliffe to Florida: Gators Land 4-Star DT Prospect

Photo Credit: Scout.com

High-upside defensive tackle Elijah Conliffe announced Tuesday that he’s planning to continue his football career at Florida.

He relayed his selection of the Gators with Bleacher Report on Facebook Live. The defender also confirmed his choice to Scout Recruiting ahead of National Signing Day.

Conliffe is a 4-star prospect who checks in as the No. 21 defensive tackle in the 2017 recruiting class, according to the Scout.com rankings. The outlet also lists him as the second-best player at the position coming out of Virginia among this year’s incoming group.

The Hampton High School product has the raw tools to make a much bigger impact than those solid, but unspectacular, recruiting ratings suggest. He possesses terrific athleticism and quickness for a player who arrives to college at 6’4" and 305 pounds.

Now the onus is on the coaching staff to mold a great athlete into a football player who can make a major weekly impact. His technique needs work and his awareness must improve, which will take some time as he also learns the intricacies of a college defense.

That’s why finding the right fit was crucial to his long-term outlook. Conliffe talked about that with Ryan Green of Gridiron Now back in October.

"I want it to feel like home," he said. "Playing time is not really a factor for the simple fact that I know when you get into college you have to work to get a spot."

Although he isn’t likely to shine as a freshman, he received plenty of interest in large part because of the first-step explosiveness and movement ability highlighted by Adam Friedman of Rivals: Adam Friedman Hampton star #Rivals250 DT Elijah Conliffe is considering a number of schools like #Bama #PSU #VT #OleMiss #Louisville #Terps https://t.co/h1BGoXmIug November 19, 2016 at 12:01:48 AM GMT Conliffe isn’t close to being a complete package right now. But allowing him a couple of years to develop, and the potential is there for him to become a key cog in the defense by the time he’s an upperclassman.

It’s a nice addition late in the recruiting process for Jim McElwain and the Gators. Even though the newest signing won’t be the most prized or hyped member of the class, edging the likes of Penn State and Louisville for him illustrates the value he could eventually bring to the table.

Landing with Florida represents a nice fit for Conliffe, too. He’ll benefit from getting to practice against high-level competition and there won’t be any pressure to make an immediate impact. He can focus on his own progress until a role opens up for him after a year or two.