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For all the grief — deserved or not — Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain has received for his on-field achievements and recruiting, there has never been any doubt about one facet of his persona: He cares about the kids he coaches. Apparently that also goes for the ones that he recruits, too.
When Florida denied admission to four-star wide receiver James Robinson (Lakeland, FL) on Monday, it was for more than just his marijuana citation while on a recent visit at Ohio State. But McElwain learning of Robinson’s fate so late in the process — after the prospect had just taken an official visit to see the Gators over the weekend — made receiving that information even tougher, and no doubt it was difficult for him to call Robinson and his family to deliver the news.
They say you can learn the most about a man’s character by the way he responds when faced with adversity. Here’s how McElwain responded to learning Robinson would not be able to enroll at Florida: He called at least 18 teams to find out if they had a spot for the talented but troubled wideout.
According to SEC Country, McElwain took it upon himself to contact 18 coaches as to determine what schools might be able to admit Robinson and would want to take a chance on the prospect. This falls in line with other reports that had McElwain contacting in-state programs and junior colleges to gauge their interest about Robinson. In other words, during a dead period in which coaches are not allowed to contact recruits who do not have National Letters of Intent from the school, McElwain is taking time out of his schedule to act as a go-between for Robinson.
This is a nice gesture, and there’s little doubt that doing what’s best for Robinson is all that’s in McElwain’s interest here. But as a result, it may also have an incredibly positive impact on Gators recruiting beyond 2017.
“From my looks coach McElwain is real. He tried everything in his ability to help a recruit out. That’s some[thing] we recruits should look at,” wrote four-star 2018 WR Jacob Copeland (Pensacola, FL), the nation’s 79th best player next cycle, in the first of two tweets. “Coach McElwain showed me tonight it’s more than football to him. He tried to make a way for that kid. Nothing but respect to him. #GoGators”
Robinson’s inability to join Florida’s 2017 class may be a tough pill to swallow for the program and fans that follow it, but despite the questions surrounding him, it was yet another example of McElwain showing his true character. And you have to respect that.