Posted: 3:32 pm Saturday, January 9th, 2010

Matt Elam veers back to Florida Gators 

By Jason Lieser

Matt Elam seems comfortable with the attention he's receiving this recruiting season. (Allen Eyestone / The Post)

Matt Elam seems comfortable with the attention he's receiving this recruiting season. (Allen Eyestone / The Post)

Keep in mind, this is not official.

He could change his mind again tomorrow or the next day, but Dwyer senior Matt Elam made his third (and possibly final) college commitment during today’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.

Elam said he will play for the Florida Gators next season. He originally committed to Florida in October 2008, then switched to Florida State last week. During NBC’s broadcast this afternoon, he said he will be a Gator after all.

Last month, Elam won his second straight Lou Groza Player of the Year award and was named Gatorade Player of the Year for the state.

He rushed for 1,883 yards and 27 touchdowns and posted 61 tackles at linebacker last season while leading Dwyer to its first state championship.

Here’s more from The Post’s Ben Volin:

Not even NBC field reporter Lewis Johnson fully believed Matt Elam when Elam picked up a Gators hat Saturday afternoon, announcing his intent to play college football at the University of Florida.

“Are you sure?” Johnson asked Elam during the broadcast of the U.S. Army All-America Bowl.

“I’m positive,” Elam replied.


This time, it’s official … probably.

“I would imagine and hope,” said his high school coach, Dwyer’s Jack Daniels, who attended the game in San Antonio. “But until he does (sign his scholarship papers), it’s not official, I guess.”

Elam’s mother, Addie Elam-Lewis, said Elam would fly back to West Palm Beach after Saturday’s game and drive to Gainesville on Sunday so he could enroll early and start classes Monday.

But Elam could still, in theory, not play for the Gators. Elam, the state’s top-ranked recruit who led Dwyer to the Class 4A state title last month, can’t sign his scholarship papers until national signing day on Feb. 3.

But unlike the half dozen other times Elam has “committed” to a school, Elam’s commitment to the Gators this time seems firm.

“He’s been doing a lot of thinking lately and he told me he would be most comfortable in The Swamp,” his brother, NFL safety Abram Elam, said on his Web site Saturday. “He’s got the opportunity to go to one of the elite teams in college football and compete for playing time right away. He feels comfortable that whether Coach Meyer stays there or not, Florida is the right school for him.”

Elam, who will play safety in college was one of three huge commitments earned by the Gators on Saturday. Despite half of his coaching staff leaving for other jobs and the uncertainty surrounding his health, Meyer earned commitments from three five-star prospects – Elam, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and defensive end Ronald Powell.

Rivals.com ranks Powell as the No. 5 recruit in the nation, Floyd at No. 9 and Elam at 14.

Florida currently has 24 commitments for the class of 2010, including 18 four- and five-star prospects. The three major recruiting services – Rivals, Scout and ESPN – all currently have Florida’s class ranked No. 1 in the nation.

“It’s scary for the SEC,” NBC recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said.

Elam’s recruitment has been just as scary for Meyer and the Gators.

Elam has switched his commitment several times since originally committing to the Gators in the fall of 2008.

At various points in his recruitment, he listed West Virginia, Tennessee, Florida State and Georgia as his front-runners, though claiming all along that Florida was still his leader.

Just 10 days ago, Elam, Dwyer’s two-way star who is the only player to win Palm Beach County’s Player of the Year award twice, said he was through with the Gators after Meyer resigned from Florida and then switched course.

Not only did Elam de-commit from the Gators, he switched to their arch-rival, Florida State, and spent half an afternoon in the Post’s offices taking photos with an FSU hat and jersey.

Elam said he didn’t like the uncertainty surrounding Meyer and the Gators. Elam, who has known Meyer for a decade, since Meyer coached Abram Elam at Notre Dame, ignored Meyer’s phone calls.

“If I would have got there and he would have left, that would have been terrible. I don’t want to take that chance,” Elam said at the time. “He told me (on Saturday), ‘I’m going to still be around the program and I’m going to help find a new head coach,’ then the next day it’s something else. It’s fishy. I just didn’t understand that.”

But Elam finally answered the phone on Monday night, and Meyer smoothed things over. Florida appeared to be the front-runner entering Saturday’s all-star game, but even Daniels didn’t know for sure.

“If you had asked me, I probably would have said FSU,” Daniels said.