As the Florida Gators closed out the 2015 Birmingham Bowl with a 28-20 victory, a number of reports on the program’s new staff began to hit as head coach Jim McElwain continues to fill out the infrastructure of his team.
According to Fox Sports‘ Bruce Feldman and Sports Illustrated‘s Thayer Evans, the Gators are set to hire Western Kentucky’s Greg Nord as tight ends coach/special teams coordinator and Oakland Raiders’ defensive line coach Terrell Williams to the same position on Florida’s staff.
UF will also be losing defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson to his alma mater of Auburn, where he has decided to rejoin Will Muschamp as a cornerbacks coach.
These reported hires come as McElwain has only officially announced two of his assistant coaches – defensive coordinator Geoff Collins and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier – to this point.
Nord’s 34-year coaching career includes stops at Kentucky (1979-89), East Carolina (1990-91), Georgia Tech (1992-94) and Louisville (1995-2009), where he coached either running backs or tight ends (or both) for 15-straight seasons. McElwain and Nord, 58, worked together under John L. Smith with the Cardinals from 2000-02, when Nord coached tight ends. He continued his career at Illinois (2010), back with UK (2011-12) and at WKU for the 2014 season.
Williams, 40, is not as experienced as many of McElwain’s hires. He began his career coaching the defensive line at a number of smaller schools before taking over at Purdue (2006-09) and then Texas A&M (2010-11). He was hired by the Raiders in 2012 and is the first member of fired coach Dennis Allen’s staff to leave Oakland for another job.
Both men have experience recruiting and coaching in the Southeastern Conference, a prerequisite that McElwain has said is important to him in filling out a staff.
A number of other assistant hires have been reported over the last week but not yet confirmed by the Gators.
On Tuesday, OnlyGators.com first reported that director of strength and conditioning Jeff Dillman would leave Florida following its bowl game. Early Saturday morning, the Orlando Sentinel noted that Colorado State’s Mike Kent will take that open position.
On Wednesday, OnlyGators.com confirmed other reports that UF would poach Arkansas linebackers coach Randy Shannon to the same position. The next day, a report since confirmed by the Sentinel had CSU assistant Tim Skipper prepared to join Florida as running backs coach.
Should all of these reports come to fruition, the Gators will already have six of nine assistants – plus a strength and conditioning coordinator – in place. Florida is also expected to retain offensive line coach Mike Summers, leaving two spots available on McElwain’s initial staff.
With D.J. Durkin not being retained and McElwain reportedly filling both positions previously held by current Gators running backs coach Brian White, neither of UF’s longest-tenured staffers (five seasons and six seasons, respectively) will be returning to the program. Florida will also be without its best recruiter for the last few years (Robinson) as well as defensive line coach Brad Lawing, who was a big draw for some of the top prospects in the country.