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National Signing Day 2017: Florida Gators Wrap Up

Keeping most of their recruiting in state, the Gators gained more defensive weapons and look to build a better offensive line.

NCAA Football: Florida at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Jim McElwain and his staff gathered a solid group of players on National Signing Day. Florida signed 23 players, 10 in the ESPN Top 300, with 15 being four stars and seven being three. McElwain has to believe in staying in Florida to recruit because 17 out of the 23 signees were from The Sunshine State.

With their class is ranked 10th in the nation and 5th in the SEC, the Gators gained a great deal of defensive players to continue to be a highly touted and feared team on that front. One of which is four-star lineman Tedarrell Slaton who is listed as both an offensive guard and defensive tackle. Slaton, from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, is ranked as the third-best guard in the nation but will transition to defensive tackle on the Gator roster. The 6-foot-4, 356 lbs guard could potentially a big threat on the defensive side of the ball for the Gators. Elsewhere, McElwain reached up to Hampton, Virginia to land defensive tackle Elijah Conliffe, who UF will need to help shore up their defensive line.

There were top recruits who originally committed to the Miami Hurricanes but decided to become Gators instead that are worth noting. CJ Henderson (Miami, FL), the No. 15 cornerback in his class and offensive lineman T.J. Moore (Charlotte, NC) made their final decisions at the last minute to sign with McElwain and the Gators.

Here are two other takeaways from Florida’s recruiting class:

  • Preparing to continue to upkeep the defense: Florida’s strategy of recruiting defensive players leads me to believe that they are continuing to build up their already touted defense to be an even stronger unit. After losing five starting players on the defensive side of the ball, it was only right for the Gators to pursue more so that they can continue to have a reputation of being great.
  • Working on the offensive line: To keep it short: If they want to keep Luke Del Rio as their QB and utilize the wide receivers to their maximum potential, the offensive line has to protect him. McElwain made a smart decision to sign the aforementioned T.J. Moore to help the line out.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Florida did a decent job recruiting this year. There were smart moves made by Coach McElwain, I think. He sought out to get what he needed in the present while concentrating on building for the future to continue to have a team that is a big threat in the SEC East.