Florida Gators snag top target, five-star OT Martez Ivey, on National Signing Day

The Florida Gators landed their top recruiting target on National Signing Day with five-star offensive tackle Martez Ivey (Apopka, FL) officially announcing his decision to stay in-state and play at Florida over Auburn.

A long-time Florida lean, Ivey (6-foot-6, 275 pounds) is the rated as the No. 2 overall player and No. 1 offensive tackle by the 247Sports Composite.

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Florida Gators recruits and targets to watch through 2015 National Signing Day

Now *16 members strong (but likely to lose one of two four-star commitments), the Florida Gators’ 2015 recruiting class has a long way to go with very little time to make up ground. New head coach Jim McElwain has tried desperately to make up for lost time over the last few weeks by convincing recruits turned off by Florida’s recent losing history that the Gators are poised for a turnaround.

With National Signing Day set for Wednesday, Feb. 4, Florida is a contender – and was once the far and away leader for – some of the best players in the country. Whether the Gators will be able to lock up any of those prospects remains to be seen, but UF is absolutely in the hunt for at least 15 players that will be making their decisions this week.

Be sure to visit OnlyGators.com’s live coverage of National Signing Day, which will kick off Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. It will feature a live blog that will be constantly updated throughout the day and a checklist to keep track of every signed National Letter of Intent (NLI) and new commitment.

For now, OnlyGators.com breaks down which players the Gators are still waiting to hear from and when they may learn of their respective decisions. This is everything you need to know ahead of the biggest day of the offseason for Florida.

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Greg Nord brings experience, passion to Florida

A 34-year coaching veteran who has led offensive and special teams units at six different stops, Greg Nord has seen it all when it comes to college football. He is used to change and more than ready to take on his next challenge as tight ends coach and special teams coordinator for the Florida Gators.

“This isn’t a school that has had just one guy successful, two guys be successful. We’ve had a history here of being successful in all phases. You got three Heisman Trophies down in the trophy room that I’ve got a chance to walk past. You got three national championship trophies that I’ve walked past. You got guys all over the NFL, when they get introduced, [they say] ‘The University of Florida.’ They don’t say their high school, they’re proud, they say ‘The University of Florida.’ And that’s probably why I’m so excited about getting the chance to have a Gator on my sweater today,” he said during his introductory press conference a few weeks ago. “[The Southeastern Conference is] truly the best league in the country and [Florida is] one of the programs that’s recognized throughout the country that’s recognized as a place you want to be.”

His praise for the school and opportunity presented to him is matched only by his colleagues’ kind words. Offensive line coach Mike Summers, the lone coach retained off Will Muschamp’s final staff, was excited about having Nord on board, explaining how much he will be able to bring to the football program.

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Florida Gators coaches confident that recruiting will come alive as dead period ends

With the dead period over, nine Florida Gators staff members hit the recruiting trail on Thursday to salvage the program’s 2015 class. Standing at just eight commitments with no four- or five-star pledges, Florida’s class has plenty of spots to fill – and the coaches have little time to get it done.

National Signing Day is set for Wednesday, Feb. 4, giving the Gators just three weeks to lock up 15-20 players. This is why it was imperative for Florida to bring on head coach Jim McElwain – and for McElwain, in turn, to get his coordinators hired – early in December so the program could get an early start on re-recruiting players.

According to McElwain, that foresight paid off.

“We’ve gotten great buzz, and yet, time will tell. Obviously the guys that we put in place have value to these recruits as they want to perfect their craft at their individual positions moving forward,” he said of his staff. “They’re good dudes, man. They’re a lot of fun to be around. They got energy and they care about kids and they care about being involved in young men’s lives, not just in football.”

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Lone survivor Mike Summers is enthusiastic about retention, new Florida Gators staff

A 34-year coaching veteran, it takes a lot to get Mike Summers excited these days. But that is exactly the emotion he said he felt when new Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain asked him to be the lone holdover from Will Muschamp’s coaching staff.

“I’m extremely excited to be retained and be a part of Coach Mac’s staff, to move into a new era of Florida football. Certainly the opportunities, the energy, the excitement that’s around the program right now is something I can really feel. I sense it from the players. I sense it myself, my energy, there’s pep in my step as I walk around. Everyone is excited about where we are and looking forward. Certainly that involves me, and I’m very excited to be a part of this,” he said last week.

Summers was far from the longest-tenured member of Florida’s staff – in fact, he was one of three new coaches to join the program ahead of the 2014 season – but he was perhaps Muschamp’s best hire last offseason.

He pieced together an offensive line that lost three starters to graduation ahead of the season, created versatility among the players he had (including a number of injured upperclassmen) and was even forced into tough mix-and-match situations during games, tasks he seemingly took on with ease. Perhaps his most impressive work was molding fifth-year lineman Max Garcia not only into the Gators’ starting center but one who did so well playing the position for the first time in his career that he earned an invitation to the 2015 Senior Bowl.

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Florida Gators announce Jim McElwain’s coaching staff, Randy Shannon’s prominent role

The Florida Gators on Monday announced all but one member of head coach Jim McElwain‘s initial coaching staff.

The veteran staff includes a former head coach, ex-coordinators, an abundance of Southeastern Conference experience and coaches with renowned recruiting chops.

“As we were putting this staff together, we wanted to make sure that all the parts fit for us to be successful,” said McElwain in a statement released by the school. “This group has the knowledge, understanding and experience recruiting and coaching in the South, the state of Florida and the Southeastern Conference. They are like thinkers and don’t have self-serving agendas.

“They will all help our players be successful on the field, as students and in life and are excited about the opportunity to join The Gator Nation. This is the first step in putting together an infrastructure that will put the Gators back where we belong.”

Offensive line coach Mike Summers is the lone holdover from UF’s 2014 staff.

Below is a list of the hires along with OnlyGators.com‘s breakdown of each coach.

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Report: Florida to hire Kirk Callahan as DB coach

Though still largely unannounced, new head coach Jim McElwain‘s first Florida Gators coaching staff appears to be near-complete.

According to ESPN recruiting analyst Derek Tyson, Central Florida defensive backs coach Kirk Callahan has accepted the same position with Florida.

Callahan, a former Gators graduate assistant (2010-11), is a relatively young coach – especially compared with the rest of Florida’s hires – as the UCF job he’s held since 2012 is his first true assistant gig.

Prior to that, he played for the Knights, served as a student assistant there in 2007 and was a graduate assistant for two years at North Carolina (2008-09)

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Reports: Florida Gators to hire Greg Nord and Terrell Williams, lose Travaris Robinson to Auburn

As the Florida Gators closed out the 2015 Birmingham Bowl with a 28-20 victory, a number of reports on the program’s new staff began to hit as head coach Jim McElwain continues to fill out the infrastructure of his team.

According to Fox Sports‘ Bruce Feldman and Sports Illustrated‘s Thayer Evans, the Gators are set to hire Western Kentucky’s Greg Nord as tight ends coach/special teams coordinator and Oakland Raiders’ defensive line coach Terrell Williams to the same position on Florida’s staff.

UF will also be losing defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson to his alma mater of Auburn, where he has decided to rejoin Will Muschamp as a cornerbacks coach.

These reported hires come as McElwain has only officially announced two of his assistant coaches – defensive coordinator Geoff Collins and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier – to this point.

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