the florida gators appear to be in great shape moving forward after jim mcelwain’s first full recruiting class as head coach.
Florida used a successful 2015 10-4 campaign to help attract the 13th-ranked recruiting class in the country, according to 247sports. The Caymans class was in the top 10 heading into 2016 National Signing Day, but dropped a bit due to surges from other programs and the trade of 4-star defensive tackle Shavar Manuel to state rival, the state of florida.
Reading: Florida gators recruiting class 2016
However, this incoming group will be instrumental in establishing a foundation for the mcelwain program.
Offense seemed to be a focus for Florida, as 14 of their 25 signings from 2016 will start their careers on that side of the ball. plus, five of those 14 are 4-star prospects. This is good news, as the Caymans struggled hard to move the ball in 2015, averaging just 17 points in their last eight games.
now let’s take a closer look at the florida sign language class of 2016.
a big plus for the florida class is that nearly half are already on campus and training with the team.
A total of 12 players signed with the Caymans early in January, including many of their best pieces in 4-star quarterback Feleipe Franks, 4-star safety Chauncey Gardner and 4-star running back Mark Thompson, a junior college runner. .
thompson fills an obvious need for the gators, who lose leading rusher kelvin taylor to the nfl. The team lacks proven experience as a running back, and the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Thompson, who rushed for 1,298 yards and 18 touchdowns at Dodge City Community College last season, will instantly give Florida a powerful short-yard rusher who can getting critical first downs late in games is expected to lead the team in rushing scoring next season.
Having 12 players on campus early is a tremendous boost for Florida’s roster, as insidethegators.com’s mark wheeler noted:
These players will be more acclimated to the college game and offensive or defensive playbook than their classmates when the 2016 season begins, increasing the chances of them making an early impact. excellent job by mcelwain and his staff in getting so many kids to come to campus in january.
Florida seeks to revive its air attack
After Will Grier was suspended after six games and subsequently left the Florida program, the 2015 Caymans were woeful moving the ball through the air.
florida lost its last three games when treon harris, grier’s replacement, completed 44 percent of his throws for just 445 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. The lack of an passing attack severely hampered the offense, which was forced to rely on Taylor and the running game.
mcelwain made a concerted effort to add elements that make a difference in the passing game, and it seems to have paid off, at least on paper.
franks is the fifth-ranked pro-style passer in the nation. he has phenomenal arm strength and enough pocket mobility to find receivers on the field. check out his movie and see for yourself.
Joining franks is a five-man wide receiver class, which is headed by tyrie cleveland, the second-ranked wide receiver in the nation. Houston’s former commitment went on to the Caymans on signing day, earning some praise from Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman:
cleveland is an electric athlete who will benefit greatly from franks’ throwing ability in a year or two. Fellow 4-stars Josh Hammond and Freddie Swain join him, giving Florida a deep and talented pass-catching group.
Given McElwain’s previous success in developing NFL quarterbacks Garrett Grayson in Colorado and AJ McCarron in Alabama, Franks should become a star in Gainesville. combine that with the receiving weapons pool, and you should expect the gators to produce one of the best passing offenses in the sec for 2018.
impact players on defense
As is typical of most Florida recruiting classes, the defensive side of the ball will host some great playmakers.
starts with gardner. Watching the tape of him, it’s obvious he brings tremendous speed and versatility to Florida’s defensive backfield. according to andy hutchins of sb nation’s army of alligators, this should allow gardner to see the field immediately for alligators :
The talkative defensive back has the skills to play both safety and nickel, and Florida has openings available at both positions. Gardner may be destined for an outside corner role eventually, but with Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson established in those positions in 2016, the shortest route from [high school] cocoa product to field is probably a jog to safety. /p>
gardner should be able to excel for florida and follow in the footsteps of 2015 all-americans vernon hargreaves and tabor as elite defensive backs for the gators.
On the defensive line, defensive end antonneous clayton will be the highest-ranked player nationally in florida’s class of 2016 at No. 26 overall. The accolades are for good reason, as Clayton is arguably America’s best pass-rushing prospect.
mcelwain tweeted his excitement over clayton’s arrival:
Looking at his previous measurable values, it’s no wonder this kid is such a powerful force. He possesses dynamic quickness as he uses his long arms and 6’3″ frame to fend off opposing linemen on his way to the quarterback.
will line up against 2015 5-star cece jefferson to form arguably the best young pass-rushing duo in the SEC. look for clayton to start as a third-down specialist before landing a full-time position towards the end of next season.
Each program is looking for a diamond in the rough to join their most heralded recruits as important parts of the team’s future.
There are plenty of worthy candidates to become that sleeper in Florida’s class. mcarthur burnett is a 3-star athlete capable of contributing to all aspects of the game, while 3-star running back lamical perine possesses a good combination of speed and power in the backfield.
However, Florida’s offensive line situation and rare physical attributes make the 3-star offensive tackle the Forsythe stone of choice here.
forsythe is a nearly 6’8″, 325 pound specimen. He is the ideal size for an offensive tackle and has a long reach to keep opposing pass-rushers from closing in on him. Check out his game movie to gain additional perspective on your abilities.
Possessing the power to block downhill while being able to go out into space to throw blocks makes forsythe a special prospect with phenomenal potential.
mcelwain sees the same promise in forsythe.
“first of all when you think about size and then you combine that with athleticism,” mcelwain said, according to landon watnick of insidethegators.com. “[forsythe] will fit in there.”
florida has some depth up front, which will allow forsythe to redshirt in 2016 and develop his raw ability in a more polished game. when she does, she could be scary. look for him to become a potential all-seconds player for his junior season.
All recruiting ratings courtesy of 247sports.