Florida’s pursuit of Cormani McClain heats up: Gators eye top player left in

Florida fans are likely quite familiar with the name Cormani McClain. The former five-star cornerback was once thought of as a heavy Gators lean before a whirlwind recruitment led him to Colorado and Deion Sanders, where he spent one year before entering the transfer portal in search of a new home.

Turns out that “new” home might be one he’s already acquainted with. McClain was on Florida’s campus on May 10, according to Swamp247, and is set to take a midweek official visit to Florida from May 14-16. If hings go well, the Gators could position themselves to land McClain the second time around — and as a walk-on, to boot.

“Florida’s scholarship roster is full entering the summer, which could lead the Gators to add McClain as a walk-on and supplement the lack of scholarship via NIL, a move that would make his non-scholarship status somewhat of a formality,” 247Sports Florida expert Jacob Rudner told CBS Sports.

McClain is the top-ranked uncommitted player in the transfer portal, per 247Sports. Florida’s 2024 transfer class already ranks No. 10 overall, which is a testament to the job coach Billy Napier has done this offseason in retooling his roster ahead of a difficult schedule this fall.

After a rough start at Colorado that had Sanders publicly criticizing McClain’s work ethic, the No. 1 corner in the class of 2023 was thrust into a more prominent role and started four games late in the season due to mounting injuries in Colorado’s secondary. He produced 13 total tackles, one for a loss, and two pass breakups in his time on the field. McClain has become an enigma of the transfer portal and his lack of scholarship attention is certainly notable, but this would be a no-brainer type of addition for Florida as McClain still has the traits to grow into an all-conference performer.

“After this season, starting cornerback Jason Marshall will be out of collegiate eligibility and junior Devin Moore will be draft-eligible, so Florida sees a unique opportunity to bolster its depth at the cornerback position with McClain,” Rudner said. “With improved work ethic and off-field habits, McClain is viewed as a potential superstar and Florida is confident that it can help him to achieve that.”

MORE: Swamp247’s inside info on Cormani McClain’s Florida visit

Examining McClain’s potential role at Florida

As mentioned by Rudner above, Florida likely wouldn’t be counting on McClain early on. The Gators return two solid cornerbacks in Jason Marshall, a former five-star prospect in his own right, and Devin Moore, a legitimate NFL Draft prospect who could climb boards with a strong junior season.

Both are home-grown options that have been solid for Florida over the past few seasons. The two combined for 14 pass deflections last season, and Moore gave the Gators their first turnover of the year when he intercepted a pass in an early season upset win against Tennessee.

The Gators also have sophomore Ja’Keem Jackson, who the staff is very high on. He’ll likely see his role increase after playing in 11 games as a true freshman.

Even with that depth at the top, this is a Florida pass defense that ranked ninth in the SEC while allowing 226.7 yards per game. A talent like McClain, who has superstar potential if he can put it all together, would raise the room’s ceiling and give the Gators a great option to not only build on for the future, but turn to if the injury bug hits.

What McClain could bring to the Gators

The word with McClain is upside. There are plenty of questions about his demeanor off the field, but McClain is one of those toolsy prospects that has enough potential to overlook any downsides.

He started his high school career by playing wide receiver, developing the ball skills that coaches desire from a modern cornerback. That past shows in his high school film, where he would often highpoint the ball and out-jump an offensive player to come down with a turnover or broken up pass.

McClain’s 6-foot-2 frame is ideal for a boundary corner and his long arms serve him well in the role. He also has elite speed and a ran a laser-timed 4.5-yard 40-yard dash as an underclassman in high school, a time that’s almost certainly dropped as he’s gotten older and developed more via conditioning and the weight room.

He needs some more technical development, given both of his youth and the fact that he hasn’t played defensive back for as long as most corners at the collegiate level. That development comes naturally for those committed to a college program, and McClain has the floor of an all-conference player if he can put it all together.

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