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Florida football recruiting: Defensive tackle Elijah Conliffe commits to Gators

Florida gets a blue-chip pick-up at a position of need.

NCAA Football: Georgia vs Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gatorspath toward a National Signing Day that is sure to draw debate from Gators fans is growing shorter and shorter — but Florida’s 2017 recruiting class grew larger on Tuesday, as Virginia defensive lineman Elijah Conliffe committed to the Gators.

Conliffe made his commitment via a Facebook Live broadcast done in conjunction with Bleacher Report, in which he had two friends and a trainer decked out in the colors of Florida and his two other finalists, Penn State and Tennessee, and got showered with orange and blue streamers after announcing he was picking the Gators.

Conliffe hails from Hampton, Virginia, and was one of the four players on official visits to Florida two weeks ago that it seemed as though the Gators might turn into a quartet of commits. After Nick Smith’s commitment on Saturday and Conliffe’s this Tuesday, Florida is 2-for-4 on those prospects, with Tedarrell Slaton and Chris Henderson trending toward and away the Gators, respectively, and announcing their college choices on National Signing Day.

A four-star recruit, Conliffe was a high school defensive end, but projects as a tackle at the collegiate level, and has the size, at 6’4” and around 300 pounds, to play that position.

Conliffe’s highlight tape eschews the typical use of pre-play circles to make it clear which player to watch on the screen — and the first minute is rife with highlights for which those circles are unnecessary, as Conliffe sits on a screen and turns it into a pick-six, then stampedes through offensive lines to snuff out a run and get a sack.

Conliffe is Florida’s 18th commitment in the 2017 recruiting cycle, and bumps the Gators to No. 19 in the 247Sports Composite rankings. But he’s also a major get at a position of need: Florida’s numbers at defensive tackle are just above crisis levels, and landing multiple prospects at the position — as the Gators have, in enrollee Kyree Campbell and Conliffe — seemed like an imperative for this cycle.

Also important: The dude can Milly Rock.