GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s recruiting class looked bleak a week ago, with the Gators falling as low as 31st in one ranking.
But coach Jim McElwain closed with a flurry and ended up with a better-than-anticipated showing on national signing day.
The Gators got 10 commitments in the last seven days — including defensive tackle Tadarrell Slaton, cornerback Christopher Henderson, defensive lineman Elijah Conliffe and defensive back Brian Edwards — and then added a pair of troubled recruits when receiver James Robinson and running back Adarius Lemons joined the class Wednesday afternoon.
Robinson was cited for marijuana possession during his official visit to Ohio State last month.
“Obviously, as in all players, the important thing is you do your research and your background,” McElwain said. “My guess is there’s a few people in this crowd right here that have some regrets on things they’ve done, and yet at the same time take responsibility for it.
“Here is the good thing: We get an opportunity to be involved in his life. We get an opportunity to help him move forward, as we do all the players on this team. I’m excited about him being a Gator.”
Lemons was suspended from Clearwater High in October and missed the second half of his senior season.
“I’m proud of him,” McElwain said. “When you go through things, you can just say, `Hey, I quit.’ … The key is not feeling sorry for yourself, not using that as an excuse, but rather let’s use it as an avenue, really a drive, to go up and do something great.”
Other things to know:
Top 25 Class: Yes.
Best in class: Slaton, a 6-foot-4, 360-pound defensive lineman from Fort Lauderdale, is expected to play right away and possibly fill a void left from the early departure of Caleb Brantley.
Best of the rest: Robinson was ranked the 14th best receiver in the country, and Florida needs more playmakers.
Late addition: Henderson initially committed to his hometown Miami Hurricanes last February. Now, he hopes to follow a growing list of successful defensive backs in Gainesville: Joe Haden, Janoris Jenkins, Vernon Hargreaves, Brian Poole, Keanu Neal, Marcus Maye, Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson.
One that got away: OT Alex Leatherwood, a five-star recruit and the No. 1 prospect from Florida, chose Alabama over Florida.
How they’ll fit in: Florida signed six defensive backs and four defensive linemen, amply filling its biggest holes.
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