(Photo: 247Sports) One aspect of head coach Jim McElwain’s tenure at Florida that has drawn plenty of criticism centers around recruiting. Are the Gators landing enough blue-chip prospects to down in-state rival Florida State and get past behemoth Alabama in the SEC Championship to earn a bid to the playoffs?
McElwain’s recruiting class have ranked No. 21 in 2015, No. 12 in 2016, No. 11 in 2017 with his current group of commits in 2018 ranked No. 23. However, the start in 2019 is completely different than what Florida fans have seen in recent years, as it currently sits at No. 1 in the nation.
The Gators current 2019 class features five recruits, all ranked inside 247Sports’ Top 200. How does that stack up to other classes? Well, the Gators signed five Top 200 recruits in each of the entire 2017 and 2016 classes. The 2015 group included four Top 200 recruits.
So the 2019 class, still very much in its infancy, is on par to match the number of blue chip recruits in past complete classes. The most impressive part, the Gators average grade per commit sits at 93.82, the highest it has ever been under McElwain. That is an excellent average that would be one of the nation’s best in any year.
How is Florida doing it? With homegrown talent. All five commits are from the Sunshine State, with three hailing from talent-rich South Florida. Winning the recruiting battles in-state is how the Gators will return to the national championship picture. And these early 2019 commits look to be the foundation of a class that could help propel Florida in that direction.
The current group includes an elite safety with Jaleel McRae out of New Smynra Beach (Fla.). The 6-foot, 185-pound is a ballhawk that covers a lot of ground on the back end of the defense. He is paired with Homestead (Fla.) South Dade cornerback Tyrique Stevenson , who plays physical, in-your-face defense.
Big bodies are being added to the wide receiving core with Delray Beach (Fla.) American Heritage’s John Dunmore and Homestead (Fla.) South Dade’s Frank Ladson . The 6-foot-3, 170-pound Dunmore can stretch the field vertically, while the 6-foot-4, 170-pound Ladson dominates jump balls.
Largo (Fla.) defensive lineman Jaquaze Sorrells checks in at 6 foot 3, 256 pounds currently. As he continues to mature physically, many see him settling in nicely as an athletic defensive tackle.