After Mark Richt left the Southeastern Conference, Jim McElwain was hoping he was done battling the former Georgia head coach on the recruiting trail.
But Richt is back in McElwain’s life, this time as the head coach of in-state rival Miami.
“What he’s done and the record he’s put on paper, he’ll do an outstanding job here,” McElwain said of Richt before speaking to the Broward County Gator Club on Wednesday evening. “I was kind of wishing maybe he would get a job somewhere else. But I know this, he’ll do an outstanding job here and he’ll put a great program together and he’ll put a good product on the map.”
Richt and McElwain used to primarily battle for top recruits in Georgia and North Florida. Now, they will fight over South Florida prospects. McElwain knows the tri-county area of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach is important to the Gators.
Florida currently has 22 players on its roster from the tri-county region, including wide receiver Antonio Callaway, running back Jordan Cronkrite and cornerback Quincy Wilson. Miami’s roster includes 32 players from South Florida and Florida State’s roster includes 17 players from South Florida.
“Look, we aren’t the only three schools recruiting down here,” McElwain said of battling Florida State and Miami for South Florida recruits. “Every single school in the country comes down here and for the right reason — there’s great football. Each kid is an individual person and they’re looking for a certain thing and each school is unique. So they’re going to choose the school that fits them. I know this, we’re going to come down and get as many as we can.”
Three of the four players who have committed to the Gators’ 2017 recruiting class are from the tri-county area.