Gators coaches recruiting around state of Florida for first time in evaluation period

You want to take care of your own backyard first in recruiting, and that’s what the Gators will do this week.

Jim McElwain head coach of the Florida Gators wave to fans as he leaves the field after a 21-3 win over the Missouri Tigers at Memorial Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Jim McElwain head coach of the Florida Gators wave to fans as he leaves the field after a 21-3 win over the Missouri Tigers at Memorial Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

The UF coaching staff hits the road Monday for the first time in the evaluation period, and they’ll be hammering the state of Florida.

The Gators hold a great amount of recruiting momentum from spring football and their SEC East championship in 2015. However, they need more playmakers to take the next step as a program, and landing in-state recruits will be the driving force behind that.

UF coach Jim McElwain wants SEC-caliber athletes in Florida to stay in their home state and play for the Gators.

“We’ve still got a long ways to go, but we’ll continue to work that in all those areas,” McElwain said of in-state recruiting on signing day. “That’s something we still need to get better at, and we’ll keep working at it.”

All nine assistants will be in a specified area each day, and they’re scheduled to visit more than 300 high schools this week to evaluate 2017, 2018 and 2019 recruits.

Here’s a breakdown of the areas they will focus on:

Monday: Central Florida and Jacksonville
Tuesday: Southwest Florida and Fort Myers, where McElwain will be speaking
Wednesday: Polk County, St. Petersburg and Tampa, where McElwain will be speaking
Thursday and Friday: South Florida and the Panhandle

On Monday, offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier and defensive line coach Chris Rumph are attending practice at IMG Academy, where they will see the likes of five-star linebacker Dylan Moses, five-star defensive end Joshua Kaindoh, three-star tight end Tre’ McKitty, four-star center Cesar Ruiz and 2018 wide receiver Brian Hightower, among many others.

The entire IMG team visited UF last week.

Running backs coach Tim Skipper will stop by several schools in the Jacksonville area and visit five-star cornerback Shaun Wade (Trinity Christian) with defensive backs coach Torrian Gray, who will also see the nation’s No. 5 safety, Cyrus Fagan, at Daytona Beach Mainland.

Wide receivers coach Kerry Dixon III will attend Mainland’s practice and travel to the Atlantic Coast to check out recruits in Cocoa (four-star athlete Bruce Judson) and New Smyrna Beach (2019 Florida safety commit Jaleel McRae).

Defensive coordinator Geoff Collins and linebackers coach Randy Shannon will be in the Orlando area throughout Monday to see prospects at Apopka, Dr. Phillips (three-star linebacker Nick Smith), First Academy (five-star offensive tackle Calvin Ashley), Jones (2018 defensive end Stacy Kirby), Seminole (three-star linebacker Demarco Artis) and West Orange.

Tight ends coach Greg Nord is hitting up schools in North Central Florida and attending practice at Dunnellon, home to stud 2019 wide receiver Maurice Goolsby. Offensive line coach Mike Summers will visit linemen in Jacksonville, including Fletcher’s Cordavien Suggs, and head to South Georgia for a pair of four-star recruits in Brunswick, athlete Deejay Dallas and offensive tackle D’Antne Demery.