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Sunday, May 28, 2017
Sports

Florida coach Jim McElwain: Tampa Bay area key for Gators

CLEARWATER — Before speaking to the Pinellas County Gator Club on Thursday night, Florida football coach Jim McElwain had a Q&A session with reporters. Three quick hits:

1. The Malik Zaire rumors are swirling but not in the quarterback room. If the SEC changes its graduate transfer policy in two weeks at its spring meetings , the Gators could be in the mix to land Zaire, a former quarterback at Notre Dame. He would be eligible immediately and expected to battle Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask and Luke Del Rio for the starting job. McElwain said his quarterbacks haven't asked him about Zaire or the speculation. "And yet everybody on our team knows we're going to continue to do whatever we can to get good players in here, at whatever positions they are," McElwain said. "Here's the beauty of it: When you've got competition at positions, then you've got a pretty good team."

2. McElwain said he was glad to be back in the Tampa Bay area, not only because of what happened in his last public trip here (Florida's 30-3 victory over Iowa in the Outback Bowl in January) but because of the local strides he has made in recruiting. After signing no bay area players in 2016, the Gators landed four in February (Tampa Bay Tech wide receiver Daquon Green, Jesuit running back Malik Davis, Hillsborough defensive end Zachary Carter and Clearwater running back Adarius Lemons). "We've got to continue that," McElwain said. "There's a lot of Gators down here. Obviously, this means a lot to us."

3. Green, a four-star recruit that Florida targeted early after one of its camps, orally committed to the Gators in July 2015 and remained that way for more than a year and a half. "The thing I like is, he stayed committed," McElwain said. "Everybody came pounding here. He's a guy that stayed true. Those are the kind of guys you want on your team."

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

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