Martez Ivey, the No. 1 offensive line recruit in the class of 2015, announced Wednesday he will sign with Florida, spurning heavy interest from Auburn.
The 6-foot-5, 271-pound offensive tackle is a big addition for a Gators' line that returns just one starter from 2014 after tackle D.J. Humphries and guard Tyler Moore opted to leave early for the NFL draft. Although offensive line recruits rarely contribute right away, he will be a key figure in Florida's rebuilding offense, which ranked 90th last season in yards per play. Ivey is renowned for his ability to pass block and run block with equal efficacy, and was named the U.S. Army National Player of the Year in January.
His commitment is a huge boon for head coach Jim McElwain’s first recruiting class, as Ivey is the only five-star 2015 prospect pick Florida. That Ivey chose the Gators over Auburn, where former Florida coach Will Muschamp was hired as offensive coordinator, makes him even more of a recruiting victory.
Muschamp landed two early blows Wednesday as he helped steer four-star linebacker Jeffery Holland and five-star defensive end Byron Cowart to the Tigers instead of the Gators. If McElwain is to return Florida to a competitive SEC standing, he will need to land more heralded prospects like Ivey.
It boded well for Florida's chances that Ivey didn’t focus much on his relationship with coaches, he told ESPNU on Wednesday. He said he only talked to McElwain three or four times after the coach was hired in December. Offensive line coach Mike Summers was the only assistant left over from Muschamp’s staff, so the Gators were able to offer Ivey continuity through the coaching change.
An Apopka, Fla., native, Ivey said staying in his home state played a large role in his decision. He is good friends with Auburn fullback Chandler Cox, but opted to chart his own course.