Jim McElwain

UF coach Jim McElwain discusses his 2016 recruiting class on Feb. 3, 2016, during a press conference at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. 

Jordan McPherson / Alligator Staff

This time last year, UF coach Jim McElwain was scrambling to put together his first recruiting class at Florida in roughly two months.

This time around, he had a full cycle to work with.

The results showed.

National Signing Day saw the Gators’ 2016 recruiting class come in at No. 14 nationally according to Rivals, a full 9 spots ahead of where the program’s class ranked in 2015.

UF finished in sixth place in the Southeastern Conference and second in the state behind No. 2 Florida State.

"It was fun to have the full kind of cycle going forward," McElwain said.

"I’m really excited about that, just the way we were able to kind of get an earlier start with all the guys and build relationships."

Florida had 13 players send in their letters of intent on Wednesday, joining the other 12 members of the class who are already enrolled at UF for the spring semester.

The class is a balanced one, with the offense and defense each having 12 recruits and kicker Eddy Pineiro rounding it out on special teams.

There was a clear emphasis on skill position players, particularly at wide receiver, a spot where UF has struggled to find consistent playmakers over the past few seasons.

The Gators brought in five wideouts in the class, including the nation’s No. 15 receiver in Tyrie Cleveland — the school’s big splash commitment of the day.

Cleveland was originally committed to Houston but flipped at the last moment and came out of his signing ceremony in full Florida apparel.

"He’s a guy that came by this summer," McElwain said.

"He’s had a lot of interest in the Gators."

Cleveland moved to Houston from Florida's Duval County when he was 11 years old, and McElwain said him coming back to play in Gainesville will be a "homecoming."

On the defensive side, Antonneous Clayton was the biggest impact player Florida signed.

"(That) guy can get off the football and make plays," McElwain said.

Ranked as the No. 2 defensive end in the country and the 27th best player overall, Clayton will likely be the replacement for UF’s 2015 sack leaders in Jonathan Bullard and Alex McCalister, both of whom declared for the NFL Draft.

The two areas the Gators left empty in this year’s class were at defensive tackle and tight end, both positions where the Gators have depth. But Florida could have done with an additional player or two.

Shavar Manuel was supposed to be Florida’s answer at defensive tackle, but he flipped his commitment to Florida State on Wednesday.

But McElwain said he’s happy with the group of players his staff managed to bring in and feels that the program filled out all its needs.

"Absolutely," he said. "Last time I checked (25 players) is pretty much a full class so I feel pretty good about it."

Contact Graham Hack at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @graham_hack24.