APOPKA, Fla. — Florida’s recruiting class was not expected to be anything special.
But even in the wake of a coaching change, new head coach Jim McElwain and UF’s coaching staff had a late surge on Wednesday, picking up talented athletes on both sides of the ball.
And at the top of that list was five-star offensive tackle Martez Ivey, the No. 4 recruit in the country out of Apopka (Fla.) High.
Ivey chose Florida over Auburn when he signed his National Letter of Intent at the comfort of his high school.
For Ivey, the decision was an easy one.
"When I received my offer two years ago, that’s where I wanted to play," Ivey said.
"That’s where I wanted to be. I grew up a Gator fan."
Although Ivey’s gut was always telling him that Florida was the place he wanted to be, he still explored his options by visiting other schools, including Auburn.
"I’m not naive to the fact that I’m getting a free education so why not explore my opportunity to go play somewhere else and get an education?" Ivey said.
"But at the same time I wanted to see what fits best. My heart was telling me ‘Florida Gator, Florida Gator.’"
Ivey was coached under Apopka High School head coach Rick Darlington throughout his four years, and has been on the Class 8A state title teams in 2012 and 2014.
"As good a player as he is — that’s why we have all these microphones and cameras and this and that — I really believe that Martez is a better person." Darlington said. "He’s got his head on right, he’s humble, he’s grounded, he’s worked hard these last few years not only on the field but also in the classroom, and off the field to make other people’s lives better."
Ivey took his official visit to Florida in October, when former head coach Will Muschamp was still at the helm in Gainesville.
With McElwain now as the head man, Ivey said he feels a buzz around the Florida football program as the new era begins.
"Definitely he brings energy," Ivey said. "I feel an energy more than what they had before, and also it’s something new so there’s always something to look up to. It’s a positive thing to come in with a clean slate."
Ivey wants to start something new in Gainesville.
He wants to bring Florida football back to national prominence.
"I want to be that class that changes Florida around," Ivey said.
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