What a day this is turning out to be for Jim McElwain and his staff.
About an hour after Jacksonville DE Ja’Quan Bailey committed to Florida, the Gators re-gained the verbal pledge of top cornerback Chauncey Gardner (Cocoa, FL/Cocoa HS) through this tweet.
Gardner’s recruiting timeline reads much like a soap opera. He originally committed to Miami, but last summer, he dumped the Canes and committed to Florida. Then, after Will Muschamp was finishing up his job of thoroughly destroying the program, Gardner had seen enough and decommitted, saying he wanted to take more time to think his decision through. But then today, he met with McElwain and several assistants, including Kerry Dixon and Kirk Callahan, and decided to re-commit.
Ah, the world of recruiting.
But it’s worth the headache, because Gardner is a big catch. His offer list includes LSU, FSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Louisville, Georgia and Oklahoma; thus, most recruiting analysts rate him among the top ten cornerbacks of his class. He’s a physical corner that can hit hard and play excellent press coverage. His ball skills are tremendous, and his athleticism is off the charts. The reasons to like this kid go on and on. He’s a little small (6’0, 190 lbs) but he makes up for it by being so naturally talented (4.5 40 yard dash). With a little coaching, and technique improvements, he could be another lockdown corner for Florida.
His highlights are quite impressive. See for yourself.
Technically, it’s still a flip job to be able to get Gardner to commit because he was once committed to Miami, and so it’s a great job by McElwain to get him back on board- particularly after the Muschamp virus ran its course and left the Gator program in shambles. Remember, that’s really what made Gardner decommit in the first place; to be able to overcome the nuclear bomb Muschamp dropped on the program isn’t going to happen overnight, but winning back one of his prized recruits is definitely a good start- particularly because Gardner hails from South Florida, an area that Muschamp completely burned his bridges with his disgusting handling of the Jacoby Brissett saga.
So good job, Mac. Keep it up.