Muschamp gathers Gators in Fort Lauderdale

Flying into Fort Lauderdale, FL for a Gator Gathering with the Broward Gator Club on Tuesday evening, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp appeared anything but tired after a long day’s work. He gave a confident and passionate speech to nearly a thousand orange-and-blue-clad fans in attendance before energetically answering questions until it was time to depart. Below is a recap of some of the more newsworthy and interesting topics that Muschamp covered during the event:

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Muschamp gathers Gators fans in Lakeland

Making the first stop on his state-wide tour of Gator Clubs, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp arrived at the Gator Gathering in Lakeland, FL on Wednesday to much fanfare and excitement. He spent the evening giving a speech and answering questions about the team, meeting fans and signing autographs. Though OGGOA was not on-site for the event (we will be for one next week), some newsworthy notes were uncovered courtesy of a few reporters who were on hand.

» On redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley’s performance in the spring game: “I was standing behind him. With that front, there wasn’t a whole lot of blocking going on. I called a couple of them look-out blocks. When that ball was snapped they turned around and say, ‘look out’ because it was coming quick. The quarterback position is kind of like the old head coach — you get way too much credit when things go right and way too much credit when things go wrong.” (LL)

» Sophomore Gerald Christian, who committed to Florida as a tight end but was moved to linebacker this spring while still taking offensive snaps, will have his assignments switched again. Muschamp said Christian will play tight end and fullback while taking some snaps on defense, opposite of what the initial plan for him.

» On wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill coming back to Florida: “He called me more than I called him. He wanted to get out of Miami. I don’t blame him.” (PBP)

» On closing practices: “I know as a coach preparing for a team when there’s uncertainty; it’s very frustrating. With our age of technology and the Internet stuff, a guy can walk out to practice with a pen and film practice right now.” (LL)

» Kicker Caleb Sturgis has been granted an additional year of eligibility by the NCAA after sitting out most of 2010 with back injuries.

» On playing against Georgia, his alma mater: “I know we need to win. They’re all big. […] I’m not going to treat any game any different than any other one. I think when you do that you start to have fluctuation how you play and how you approach.” (LL)

» Junior running back Mike Gillislee “is going to be fine” after hurting his foot in the spring. “Matter of fact, he’s out back running now,” Muschamp said. (LL)

» On redshirt sophomore Jonotthan Harrison moving to center: “He brings an element of toughness to our football team.” (LL)

» Senior cornerback Janoris Jenkins (torn labrum) will be a “full go” for summer.

» Florida will not place any restrictions on where WR Chris Dunkley can transfer. “You go through this, and things come up. We have a certain standard that we want our players to uphold to. Chris and I met after spring practice and we just felt like it was best for him to look at another opportunity. He’s excited about another opportunity, and that’s the direction we decided to go. We’re helping him and trying to advise him. We appreciate his time at Florida. We’ll help him go wherever he wants to go.” (PBP)

Hat-tips: LL – Lakeland Ledger; PBP – Palm Beach Post
Photo Credit: Erica Brough/Gainesville Sun

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Florida gains ninth 2012 commit in CB Bailey

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp and his staff are on a roll, gaining their ninth commitment for the 2012 recruiting cycle on Tuesday when three-star cornerback Willie Bailey (Miami, FL) decided to wear the orange and blue next year.

Bailey, who decommitted from Miami (FL) in order to switch to Florida, attends the same high school as Gators redshirt junior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. At 6’1″ and 165 lbs., he is best suited to play either nickel corner or safety.

“He’s always been a Florida fan,” Bailey’s high school coach Dameon Jones told InsideTheGators.com. “He’s always liked the Gators, but I guess he’s never been there. Once he saw the campus and got to talk to Frankie and see how it fit him – because they are both pretty much the same. They are both quiet kids who run track and are really more laid back and polite type of kids. When he saw how that atmosphere fit him, he started thinking about committing. That’s something he couldn’t pass up.”

Bailey spent the last two weekends in Gainesville, FL and came to his decision at least in part because of the relationship he built with WR coach/recruiting coordinator Aubrey Hill and defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson.

OGGOA will be updating this story shortly.

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TWO BITS: gymnastics in NCAAs, Hill returns

1 » No. 5 Florida Gators gymnastics will begin semifinal action in the 2011 NCAA Championships on Friday evening at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, OH. Competing in Semifinal II along with Alabama, Kent State, Nebraska, Oregon and Utah, Florida hopes to finish in the top three in order to advance to the NCAA Super Six – the final stage of competition for a national title.

2 » Back wearing orange and blue for the first time since 1994, new Gators wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill is happy to be back home. Calling his return to Gainesville, FL a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Hill told University of Florida senior writer Scott Carter that he is the one who reached out to head coach Will Muschamp about joining his first staff. “When he got the job, I sought him out,’’ Hill said. “I’m just very thankful for the opportunity to be able to come back home to your alma mater and to be able to give back to the players, give back to the community, and give back to this wonderful Gator Nation.” Muschamp explained why having Hill on board can help the team be successful. “I think having someone on the coaching staff who attended the University of Florida is really important when dealing with the players,’’ he said. “Aubrey has walked in their footsteps. He has been on their practice field, was in their classrooms and knows the culture of the Gator Nation. He’s accomplished what a lot of these players want to accomplish – he has been part of championship teams.”

You can check out the rest of the feature story by clicking here, though a choice quote has been republished below:

Q: You are the recruiting coordinator. How do you approach recruiting?
A: I really, really enjoy recruiting. Why do I enjoy recruiting? I look back when I was recruited and how important it was in picking a school. As an assistant coach, we have to give them all the information that can help them make a decision. They can pick it for several reasons: football, academics, proximity to home. What we try to do as coaches is try to tie them all in. There is no way I can do my job without the head coach. Sometimes I can’t do my job without the area coach. We all collectively work on getting a kid here. Recruiting is just selling what you believe in, and it’s an easy sell when you are talking about the University of Florida.

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Gators pick up commitment from 2012 OL Dunker

Though he allowed the recruiting process to play out by taking visits to a handful of Southeastern Conference schools, it always seemed like four-star offensive tackle Jessamen Dunker (Boynton Beach, FL) would end up with the Florida Gators. The 6’6”, 315 lbs. recruit made it a reality on Monday when he officially announced his intent to attend the University of Florida in 2012.

“It wasn’t hard of a choice after I really thought about it,” Dunker told the Palm Beach Post. “It’s a comfort level with the coaches, the atmosphere there and the support the sports teams get, the experience the coaching staff has.”

In addition to visiting Florida, Dunker had taken trips to Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and LSU. He was originally planning to make his decision next January but decided to get it out of the way to focus on school.

“I talked to Coach [Aubrey] Hill first and as soon as I told him he started jumping up and down,” Dunker told Rivals. “I guess all of the coaching staff was there together, so they heard that I committed and they just started yelling and stuff. Coach [Will] Muschamp told me I made his year. He was really excited about it.”

Not only does Dunker have an outstanding opportunity at early playing time due to the Gators lacking offensive line depth, his big stature and frame provide him with plenty of size and strength right out of the gate.

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Gators paying new coaching staff handsomely

With a new head coach comes a new coaching staff, and the University of Florida decided to dish out some hefty salaries in order to make sure the Florida Gators two coordinator positions under head coach Will Muschamp were filled by experienced, talented coaches for 2011 and beyond.

According to information released by Florida on Friday, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has signed a three-year, $2.625 million contract with the university. The deal makes the highest-paid assistant coach in school history.

Weis will earn salaries of $765,000 in 2011 and $865,000 in both 2012 and 2013; he also received a $100,000 signing bonus.

A look at the coaching staff’s 2011 salaries compared with their counterparts in 2010:

2011 Coach2011 Salary2010 Coach2010 Salary
Will Muschamp
Head Coach
$2.75M
(5 years)
Urban Meyer
Head Coach
$4M
(6 years)
Charlie Weis
Offensive Coordinator
(Quarterbacks)
$765K
(3 years)
Steve Addazio
Offensive Coordinator
(Offensive Line)
$375K
Dan Quinn
Defensive Coordinator
(Defensive Line)
$490K
(2 years)
Teryl Austin
Defensive Coordinator
(Cornerbacks)
$440K
Brian White
Running Backs
$240K
(1 year)
Brian White
Tight Ends coach
$240K
Frank Verducci
Offensive Line
$290K
(2 years)
Scot Loeffler
Quarterbacks
$240K
Aubrey Hill
Wide Receivers
$230K
(1 year)
Zach Azzanni
Wide Receivers
$240K
D.J. Durkin
Linebackers/ST
$265K
(1 year)

D.J. Durkin
Linebackers/ST
$240K
Travaris Robinson
Cornerbacks
$230K
(1 year)
Chuck Heater
Co-Defensive Coordinator
(Safeties)
$305K
Derek Lewis
Tight Ends
$190K
(1 year)
Stan Drayton
Running Backs
$240K
Bryant Young
Asst. Defensive Line
$230K
(2 years)
Dan McCarney
Assistant Head Coach
(Defensive Line)
$330K
* White and Durkin are both in the second year of two-year contracts signed in 2010.

Contract notes (as of 2010):
- All coaches receive a $10,000 bonus from Florida’s contract with Nike
- All coaches receive a car and other tangible incentives

Universal bonuses (as of 2010):
- BCS National Championship Game appearance – up to 30 percent increase
- Other BCS bowl game appearance – 20 percent increase
- SEC Championship Game appearance – 10 percent increase
- Non-BCS bowl game – 10 percent increase
- Bowl game with less than $2 million payout – one month’s salary increase

The Associated Press, Gainesville Sun, Palm Beach Post, Florida Times-Union and other media outlets obtained the above salary information via an open records request.

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Muschamp shakes up staff with TE coach hire

With running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Stan Drayton departing for the Ohio State Buckeyes last week, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp announced Wednesday during his National Signing Day press conference that some changes have been made to his first coaching staff.

Muschamp hired Derek Lewis to coach tight ends and shifted former TE coach Brian White‘s responsibilities to coaching running backs. Additionally, wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill will take over Drayton’s recruiting coordinator duties.

Lewis, Minnesota’s tight ends and assistant special teams coach since 2007, was a graduate assistant with the Texas Longhorns from 2005-06. He had a solid career as a four-year letterman at Texas from 1995-98 and spent two seasons in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams (1999-2000), with whom he earned a Super Bowl ring.

“A lot of Gator fans will remember him,’’ Muschamp said of Lewis. “He caught the pass against Nebraska [in 1996] that won Texas the Big 12 Championship and vaulted Florida into the national championship game. He has helped the Gators in the past.”

A running backs coach from 1991-92 with UNLV and 1995-2006 with Wisconsin (where he was also offensive coordinator from 1999-2006), White takes over a job he has plenty of experience doing. Some of the players White has seen succeed under his tutelage as RB coach include Ron Dayne, Michael Bennett, Anthony Davis and Brian Calhoun – all four of whom were selected in the NFL Draft. He also produced eight 1,000-yard rushers in his first eight seasons with Wisconsin.

As projected by OGGOA on Jan. 27, Hill steps into the recruiting coordinator role after holding the position for the Miami Hurricanes in 2010.

“I’m really pleased with the job he did recruiting and what he brings to the staff, especially as a former Gator,” Muschamp said of his decision to give Hill the added responsibilities.

Position20102011
Offensive coordinatorSteve AddazioCharlie Weis
Quarterbacks coachScot LoefflerCharlie Weis
Defensive coordinatorTeryl AustinDan Quinn
Defensive line coachDan McCarney*Dan Quinn
Assistant: Bryant Young
Running backs coach
Recruiting coordinator
Stan DraytonBrian White
Offensive line coach
Running game coordinator
Steve AddazioFrank Verducci
Wide receivers coach
Recruiting coordinator
Zach AzzanniAubrey Hill
Tight ends coachBrian WhiteDerek Lewis
Linebackers coach
Special teams coordinator
D.J. DurkinD.J. Durkin
Defensive backs coachAustin/Chuck Heater*Travaris Robinson
Strength & conditioningMickey MarottiMickey Marotti

*McCarney was also assistant head coach; Heater held the role of co-defensive coordinator. Muschamp has not named an assistant (or associate) head coach as of press time.

Photo Credit: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

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Ohio State hires Stan Drayton away from Florida

Florida Gators running backs coach/recruiting coordinator Stan Drayton, a native of Cleveland, OH, has officially been hired by the Ohio State Buckeyes as the team’s new wide receivers coach, the school announced on Thursday. One of three assistants retained by new head coach Will Muschamp, Drayton will leave Florida before National Signing Day and begin work with Ohio State on Monday.

“Stan Drayton first and foremost is a fine person and family man. He is a Buckeye born and bred, and will add a tremendous dimension to our football family,” Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel said in an official statement. “We are fortunate to gain one of the finest coaches in America to serve our kids, school and community.”

Drayton has almost exclusively coached running backs since 1993 and has spent four years with the Gators (2005-07, 2010). He was on Florida’s staff when the team captured the 2007 BCS National Championship by defeating Ohio State 41-14.

In addition to his duties as WR coach for the Buckeyes, Drayton is also expected to coordinate Ohio State’s recruiting for the state of Florida.

Muschamp addressed the topic late Thursday. “Our focus will always be on the staff that are here, current players and the prospective student-athletes,” he said.

With the 2011 recruiting cycle coming to a close on Feb. 2, Muschamp will likely wait until it has concluded to hire Drayton’s replacement. New wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill, who coordinated recruiting for the Miami Hurricanes in 2010, may be at the front of the pack to take on those responsibilities for 2012 and beyond.

Position20102011
Offensive coordinatorSteve AddazioCharlie Weis
Quarterbacks coachScot LoefflerCharlie Weis
Defensive coordinatorTeryl AustinDan Quinn
Defensive line coachDan McCarney*Dan Quinn
Assistant: Bryant Young
Running backs coach
Recruiting coordinator
Stan DraytonBrian White
Offensive line coach
Running game coordinator
Steve AddazioFrank Verducci
Wide receivers coach
Recruiting coordinator
Zach AzzanniAubrey Hill
Tight ends coachBrian WhiteDerek Lewis
Linebackers coach
Special teams coordinator
D.J. DurkinD.J. Durkin
Defensive backs coachAustin/Chuck Heater*Travaris Robinson
Strength & conditioningMickey MarottiMickey Marotti

*McCarney was also assistant head coach; Heater held the role of co-defensive coordinator. Muschamp has not named an assistant (or associate) head coach as of press time.

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