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Florida football recruiting: Gators flip former Penn State TE commit Nick Elksnis

Tim Brewster has his position — and thus Florida — set up beautifully in the 2021 cycle.

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Brewster was hired by Dan Mullen as Florida Gators tight ends coach in early February, just after National Signing Day for the 2020 recruiting class. At that point, the Gators had zero tight ends committed.

After Saturday, when Florida completed a slow-motion flip of former Penn State commit Nick Elksnis by securing his commitment during an on-campus visit, the Gators have two — and thus perhaps the best potential tight ends class in the 2021 cycle.

Elksnis began last week as a Penn State commit, but decommitted from the Nittany Lions before Sunday was out, both amid and prompting rumors that the 6’5”, 220-pounder from Jacksonville’s Episcopal School, a three-star prospect in the 247Composite rankings would end up pledged to Florida.

And it’s not hard to understand why he would make that call, given the pitch — be our next Kyle Pitts, and as soon as next year, after he leaves for the NFL Draft — that Florida apparently made to him. (Interestingly, Florida doesn’t seem to have made that same pitch to fellow tight end commit Gage Wilcox.)

Whether Elksnis can actually be a Pitts clone obviously remains to be see, but on tape, he does have the size to be a matchup nightmare when split out wide, and the quickness and footwork to create space for himself.

But, then, any tight end Florida recruits is going to hear something compelling from Brewster, who’s got a track record of his own to bolster whatever recent success his current paycheck provider has had at the position.

And now the Sunshine State’s top two tight ends in the 2021 cycle have heard enough from Brewster to end up as Florida commits, presenting in-state and Florida-mining foes with a problem: If they want a tight end ranked in the top 500 prospects nationally, they’ll need to expend resources on trying to sway a recruit that Brewster will surely defend to the best of his abilities; if they want one in the top 1,000 prospects, they’ll either need to do the above, work on Miami commit Khalil Brantley, or target Jacksonville’s Christopher Johnson, literally the No. 1,000 prospect in the 247Composite.

Such is the effect of Brewster coming to Gainesville and immediately locking down his block in a relatively uninspiring year for in-state tight ends.

Elksnis’s commitment, the 14th for Florida’s 2021 class, also gets the Gators closer to the No. 1 recruiting class in the 2021 cycle. Rivals shifted Florida to the top over the weekend, but the in-house 247Sports and 247Composite rankings still have the Gators at No. 2. And it’s worth noting, as well, that Florida is only ahead of other big names in college football like Ohio State and Clemson at this point in the cycle because the Gators’ 14 commitments are slightly outweighing the smaller Buckeyes and Tigers classes on total talent amassed, not average prospect rating.

Still: This is a fine position for Florida to be in. And with Brewster’s work at his position theoretically done for the cycle, he’ll be free to work on whomever else in the class Florida really wants to pursue with nearly a full year to perform his magic.

That’s a scary prospect.