Florida AD 'optimistic' about McElwain, Gators' youth in 2017

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Jim McElwain's had an interesting offseason, from dealing with rumors about his job security to accusations of being the human star of "sharkgate," but he apparently hasn't lost the confidence of his athletic director.

Florida will be returning a number of young players who garnered notable playing time in 2017, a factor that's not lost on Gators AD Scott Stricklin, he told Jordan McPherson of SEC Country.

"I'm not going to speak for (McElwain) as to where the program might be, but I know we all are optimistic based on how many of the young guys got to play last year and the talent that's coming back," Stricklin said.

Stricklin also seems to like working with his head football coach.

"I've enjoyed being around Mac," he said. "He's got a great personality and really connects with the players. … You can always evaluate a coach by who he surrounds himself with, and I really enjoy being around his staff and what they represent as people and as coaches. I think we have great days ahead."

Florida's captured the SEC East title in each of McElwain's two seasons with the Gators, but was stymied by Alabama on both occasions in the conference championship.

Though Stricklin understands the need to make the push necessary to win the conference, he doesn't undervalue the accomplishment of consistently earning that opportunity.

"The key to winning the SEC title is getting to the championship game," Stricklin said. "Eventually, you're going to win that thing. I know that's a big goal of his and that's why our goal every year is 'Let's get to Atlanta and see what happens.'"

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