A week before National Signing day, Gator Nation was ready to oust Coach Mac and his staff for the in ability to land recruits. Twitter was blowing up the negative reaction to Coach Mac’s game plan and it seemed as though the Gators were headed for a major National Signing Day bust, if you listed to Twitter.
The Gators had just lost out on a big recruit in Kai-Leon Herbt (to Miami of all places) and another big Gator commit (Elijah Blades) had just decommited from the program. This shot the Gators down the rankings to 31st in the country with a week left til National Signing Day.
I got torched frequently by Gator Nation for still saying we would have a top 10 class, top 12 at worst. My own fellow Gator boys laughing and poking fun at the prediction like it wasn’t possible.
Gator Nation, at least those on Twitter, were ready to bring in a whole new set of Coaches who could “recruit” and bring this program back. Then the weekend before National Signing Day, gave Gator Nation a mixed bag of emotion.
Gator Nation would pickup three recruits that weekend but realize later that coveted recruit James Robinson was cited for a incident in Ohio and they were no longer going to offer him. Adding to the pain, the Gators also pulled offers from the Gaddy brothers due to eligibility issues.
Again, Gator Nation was in the dumps for the Gators not giving Robinson the opportunity to come to Florida after such a minor issue. But when the news broke about how McElwain was actively fighting for Robinson and helping him land a spot elsewhere, the fire McElwain crowd began to shift a bit.
Those who days before were calling for his removal, were praising his efforts to help keep Robinson or help Robinson find another landing spot. The tides were turning for Gator Nation, at least in the acceptance of McElwain despite poor recruiting ranking leading up to National Signing Day.
Then National Signing Day, or maybe we should name it Jim McElwain Day, finally came. Gator Nation, again, was on edge. They weren’t as blatantly negative as they were the weeks leading up to Jim McElwain Day but still they believed we were in for a world of hurt.
Elijah Conliffe, deciding to come to the Gators the night before National Signing Day helped Gator Nation and our rankings leading into the day. We had some momentum and some top talent signing early that morning.
First up for the Gators was Tedarrell Slaton a big need for the Gators and a four star recruit. Slaton was choosing between Florida, Georgia and Miami. Gator Nation didn’t want to lose anyone else to Miami after Herbert, so this was huge for us. I mean anytime Miami gets one player, their fans act like they won the Russell Athletics Bowl.
Slaton chose the Gators, and Gator Nation was gaining momentum. Miami, not so much.
Gators missed on Levi Jones but that was to be expected. At least he didn’t go to FSU am I right? We also didn’t hit on Rambo, Brown or Chaisson to this point, which wasn’t expected either.
Then around noon, Chris Henderson was set to commit. Henderson was picking between Florida and Miami. Henderson chose Florida (who wouldn’t?) and Gator Nation starts to go nuclear. The Gators won yet another battle against Miami and stole a recruit from that area.
Gators lost out on LaBryan Ray and Jarez Parks but that was to be expected. What wasn’t expected was the process in which Parks took to decide. Parks at his announcement time said he wasn’t ready yet and would announce later that day. Come to find out Alabama didn’t have enough room for both Ray and Parks and informed Parks to hold off until Ray’s decision. Some how, Alabama got Ray and convinced Parks to Gray Shirt, which means that he cannot enroll or anything until next January.
A little while later, Gator Nation was up again this time with Brian Edwards. Edwards was selecting between Florida and Miami. Again, the Gators won the recruiting battle against Miami, pulling another player out of their back yard.
It looked like the Gators would finish with a solid top 15 class, to which Miami fans argued you may have won 7 of the 9 recruiting battles but we still have a better rated class.
Then the unthinkable happened.
The highlight of the day to all of Gator Nation and recruits around the world was the Gators announcing the signing of James Robinson, who just days earlier learned he wouldn’t be offered. This gave the Gators a top 10 class (as I predicted for months) and gave Miami fans that awkward moment.
We also added Lemons to the class later that day, we all know his talent and skill set is more around the four to five star if he stayed on the field last year. We lost out on Blades but honestly he is a better suit in Nebraska, less competition.
The Gators were the biggest movers on National Signing Day and completed the Hail Mary pass perfectly for a National Signing Day winning touchdown! Gators finished with a top 10 class (best of the McElwain era) and did it down two coaches. Best of all beat Miami everywhere, down two coaches, amidst a bunch of drummed up lies.
It’s great to be a Florida Gator.