GAINESVILLE, Florida — Jim McElwain's first class at Florida turned out considerably better than expected.
McElwain closed signing day strong Wednesday, adding seven recruits who turned a class that had been ranked near triple digits into one widely graded in the top 25.
"We weren't the only ones in the country in that situation," McElwain said. "I know this: our guys worked in overtime getting to as many places as we could. And, you know, I think our reception was really good, which will help us moving forward."
Florida signed 18 players Wednesday, bring its total to 20 since two enrolled in January. The Gators also got a verbal commitment from highly touted defensive end CeCe Jefferson from nearby Baker County. Jefferson had trouble sending his letter of intent, but was expected to get it to the school later Wednesday or first thing Thursday.
Jefferson and fellow five-star prospect Martez Ivey, a 6-foot-6, 290-pound offensive tackle from Apopka, were the gems of the group.
The class includes six offensive line — Florida's biggest position of need — and seven kids from talent-rich South Florida.
McElwain wanted, needed really, to sign a number of offensive linemen after losing five of their top six from last season. Center Max Garcia, guard Trenton Brown and right tackle Chaz Green graduated, and left tackle D.J. Humphries and guard Tyler Moore left school early to turn pro.
"That was something that we felt we needed to do, not because of the talent that we have, but because of the lack of numbers we had," McElwain said. "So I think that was really good and very important for us."
Top 25 Class: On the bubble.
Best in class: Martez Ivey, OT, Apopka.
Best of the rest: CeCe Jefferson, DE, Baker County.
Late addition: D'Anfernee McGriff, ATH, Tallahassee. He de-committed from Auburn earlier this week and landed at Florida.
One that got away: Byron Cowart, DE, Seffner. Cowart was down to Auburn and Florida, but ended up choosing the Tigers on signing day.