Florida offense: Quick hitters on Garcia, Jones, Brown, Ajagbe, Andrades and the offensive line

Over the last week-and-a-half of Florida Gators spring football practice, a number of players met with the media to discuss their individual play and the team as a whole. Below are some of the stories, notes and quotes that have fallen through the cracks.

READY AND ABLE TO CONTRIBUTE

A lot has been made over the last two weeks about injuries to the unit, but a huge boon for Florida’s offensive line is newly-eligible redshirt junior Max Garcia, a transfer from Maryland who sat out the entire 2012 season and has accepted a position switch from tackle to guard. Garcia was listed as the starting left guard on the Gators’ initial spring practice depth chart and has received nothing but positive views thus far in camp.

Garcia, who missed a few days of practice with a sore back, explained last week that Florida’s depth concerns on the offensive line are legitimate but the players are doing whatever they can to make it work.

“This spring is tough with the numbers that we have. The coaches are telling us we’ve been doing a great job, but at the end of the day, it’s going out there and doing what we need to do. With the O-line, we’re the backbone of the team, so we just got to keep pushing forward and getting the job done,” he said.

Garcia also spoke about why he decided to transfer to the Gators, noting that he is sure he made the right decision. “I’ve had a lot of support with the coaches and the players. That’s the main reason why I came down here, just because of the players that were here, the players I interacted with on my official visit. We got a good O-line, great chemistry, so the transition has been going really well,” he said.

Though he is now fully in the mix, Garcia had to sit out the entire 2012 season, watching the team from afar as it completed an unexpected turnaround under head coach Will Muschamp. He discuss how that affected him as a competitor.

“Honestly, when we were winning, it wasn’t really hard. With a great season, you’re just happy to be part of the team, happy to contribute. It was good getting recognized at the end of the year as the Scout Team Offensive Player of the Year. The hard work didn’t go unnoticed. The coaches did a good job just telling me I’ve been doing well. I was really excited. It wasn’t really a burden on me. I was just happy to be a part of the team.”

“It was tough on the away games sitting in front of the TV, wishing I could be out there trying to help the team. But for the most part we had a really successful season, so it wasn’t really that tough.”

Continue Reading » Florida offense: Quick hitters on Garcia, Jones, Brown, Ajagbe, Andrades and the offensive line

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Muschamp, Durkin discuss Florida Gators defense

With the Florida Gators set to begin 2013 spring practice on Wednesday, head coach Will Muschamp and new defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin met with the media Tuesday to discuss a variety of topics concerning the team’s defense.

RELATED: Spring depth chart released | Muschamp, Pease on offense

A NEW MAN IN CHARGE…

Durkin will be entering his fourth year as a member of the Gators’ coaching staff but will begin the 2013 season with a brand new task – coordinating a defense. After spending his career as a position coach and special teams coordinator, Durkin is now the man in charge of Florida’s defense and realizes he has plenty of work ahead of him.

» Durkin on becoming the defensive coordinator: “I’m very excited, excited because of the guys I get to work with both players and coaches. I think it’s a great opportunity. I’m very excited about it. It’s a new challenge. I’ve been doing special teams for a while, so any time you do something for that long, you kind of get in your routine and get to the normalcies of it and all that. It’s exciting for me to have a new challenge and some different things to work on and do.”

» Durkin on his defensive philosophy: “The number one thing that it comes down to is, and I think you’ve seen the identity of our defense, what we as a staff want to build here. We want to be tough, blue-collar team. We want to play with unbelievable effort and enthusiasm in what we’re doing. That’s the way I coach. That’s my personality. That’s what I hope I’ve carried over to our special teams while I’m here and it will be the same thing with our defense. We got a great system in place. We’re not changing terminology and all that. Coach Muschamp, it’s his system and he’s a great defensive mind. It’s been great for all of us to learn that system. To me, that is what this game is all about, being a blue-collar team, both mentally and physically tough, playing with great enthusiasm and great attitude. “

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Will Muschamp discusses Florida Gators’ 2013 recruiting class; coaches evaluate new signees

P Johnny Townsend: commit No. 30 | OL/TE Trevon Young: commit No. 29 | JUCO DT Jarran Reed: commit No. 28 | DT Jay-nard Bostwick: commit No. 27 | 30 new player bios | Video interviews with coaches | “Closing”, quarterback situation

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp held a press conference after his coaching staff completed its 28-member 2013 recruiting class on National Signing Day. Below are the most notable quotes from that session as well as player evaluations made by other members of the coaching staff.

Opening statement:

“I’m really proud of our staff. Today is a culmination of a lot of hard work, effort, sometimes two-and-a-half, three years put together on a young man and you come down to signing day and you sit at the fax machine and hope that thing comes through. I hope it’s signed right and it’s dated and all that kind of good stuff. Recruiting is all about building relationships. We’ll know about this class in two or three years. It’s a developmental game. …

“We had a deep signing class this year, which means you’ve got to a have a larger board as far as the numbers are concerned at each position, which also to me was very appealing. At some positions we signed five wide receivers [for example]. Those are five guys that want to come in here and compete. Sometimes when you get some numbers you start getting guys looking at that depth chart and numbers and they’re not real sure about coming in and competing for the Gators. We want guys that got a lot of confidence that they can come in the SEC and play in The Swamp and play for the University of Florida.

“This class is very balanced. It’s a high-character class with toughness, all the position criteria we look for as far as size and speed and then all of the off-the-field things we’re looking for. It’s a very committed class. A lot of these guys are guys that have been committed to us for a long time and never took other visits; there was not a lot of flash in their recruiting process. That’s the kind of guys you want; you want guys that are like that. …

“The coaching process is really about four things – evaluation, recruiting, developing and coaching. I think in our two years, you’ve seen on the recruiting trail – from an evaluation standpoint and a recruiting standpoint – that we’ve got a staff that can do it at a high level. I’m very proud of the staff and the job that they’ve [done] and all of our support staff on campus. … There’s a true commitment level at this place for excellence, and I appreciate their support.”

» On commitments being the best recruiters: “They understand the importance of having good players around them. This coaching stuff is way overrated. It’s about players at the end of the day, and they want to play with other good players.”

» On if he looks at player star ratings from recruiting services: “Absolutely no consideration at all. We commit most of our guys before they ever come out, so maybe they look at our ratings.”

Read much more from Muschamp and the Florida coaching staff…after the break!
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Robinson spurns Florida, flips back to Clemson

Less than one week after four-star wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (Fort Valley, GA) decommitted from the Clemson Tigers and pledged to join the Florida Gators’ 2013 recruiting class, the top-tier pass catcher had a change of heart and decided to rescind his promise to Florida and recommit to play for Clemson next season.

According to Rivals affiliate TigerIllustrated.com, which first reported his flip, the Gators have lost arguably their most important commitment since head coach Will Muschamp took over the program as Robinson was a top-tier talent at a major position of need. UF’s leading returning receiver, redshirt sophomore Quinton Dunbar, reeled in just 31 receptions for 306 yards and four touchdowns during the 2012 season.

Robinson was the third pass catcher listed at 6’2” or taller and the fifth overall wide receiver to make a pledge for Florida this cycle. He is a Rivals100 and ESPN 300 talent who is respectively listed as the No. 48 and No. 157 overall prospect in the nation.

A big target with plenty of strength and more than enough speed, Robinson would have been the highest-rated receiver to sign with the Gators since Andre Debose (No. 21) in 2009. His flip to Florida was believed to be fueled, in part, by UF’s hiring of Joker Phillips as receivers coach.

Robinson had been long considering a switch to the Gators and chose to do so following a meeting with Muschamp, Phillips and running backs coach Brian White last Wednesday. He met with members of the Tigers’ coaching staff late in the week and chose to make a change even after visiting Florida over the weekend.

The Gators do still have four remaining receivers committed for the 2013 cycle in four-stars Ahmad Fulwood (Jacksonville, FL) and Alvin Bailey (Seffner, FL) and three-stars Marqui Hawkins (Columbus, GA) and Chris Thompson (Gainesville, FL).

Florida now has 25 total pledges including 24 that count as members of the 2013 recruiting class. The Gators will likely look to add a fifth receiver to their class.

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Gators hand out raises for coaches in 2012

Though the Florida Gators had previously released contract information for head coach Will Muschamp‘s new 2012 hires, the team handed documents over on Monday containing information on raises given to some assistants currently on the staff.

According to information obtained by The Gainesville Sun and Associated Press via Florida, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn signed a contract extension that keeps him in orange and blue through 2013. He received an $80,000 bonus, will earn another $80,000 as a retention bonus if he lasts through the 2013 season and had his annual salary upped $20,000 to $510,000 per year.

Also earning an extension and getting what Muschamp obviously believes is a well-deserved raise was linebackers/special teams coach D.J. Durkin, whose salary was upped $75,000 to $340,000 for each of the next two seasons.

Running backs coach Brian White received a $50,000 raise this season to $290,000, and both tight ends coach Derek Lewis and defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson were also extended for this year.

A look at the coaching staff’s 2012 salaries compared with their counterparts in 2011:

2012 Coach2012 Salary2011 Coach2011 Salary
Will Muschamp
Head Coach
$2.75M
(5 years)
Will Muschamp
Head Coach
$2.75M
(5 years)
Brent Pease
Offensive Coordinator / QBs
$490K
(3 years)
Charlie Weis
Offensive Coordinator / QBs
$765K
(3 years)
Dan Quinn
Defensive Coordinator / DL
$510K
(2 years)
Dan Quinn
Defensive Coordinator / DL
$490K
(2 years)
D.J. Durkin
Linebackers / Special Teams
$340K
(2 years)
D.J. Durkin
Linebackers / Special Teams
$265K
(1 year)
Brian White
Running Backs
$290K
(1 year)
Brian White
Running Backs
$240K
(1 year)
Tim Davis
Offensive Line
$275K
(1 year)
Frank Verducci
Offensive Line
$290K
(2 years)
Aubrey Hill
Wide Receivers / Recruiting
$230K
(1 year)
Aubrey Hill
Wide Receivers / Recruiting
$230K
(1 year)
Travaris Robinson
Defensive backs
$230K
(1 year)
Travaris Robinson
Defensive backs
$230K
(1 year)
Bryant Young
Asst. Defensive Line
$230K
(1 year left)
Bryant Young
Asst. Defensive Line
$230K
(2 years)
Derek Lewis
Tight Ends
$190K
(1 year)
Derek Lewis
Tight Ends
$190K
(1 year)
Jeff DIllman
Strength & Conditioning
$215K
(2 years)
Mickey Marotti
Strength & Conditioning
$240K
(unknown)
* Muschamp signed an extension giving him five years remaining on his contract.
* Young is in the second year of a two-year contract signed in 2011.
* Florida signs most assistant coaches to one-year renewable contracts.

Universal contract notes and bonuses:
- All coaches receive a $10,000 bonus from Florida’s contract with Nike
- All coaches receive use of a car and other tangible incentives
- 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

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Previewing Florida’s 2012 Friday Night Lights

Mixing pomp and circumstance with football drills and relationship building, the Florida Gators use their annual Friday Night Lights camp at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as both a recruiting tool and means of evaluating some of the best high school football players in the country. The Gators often pull in some recruits over the FNL weekend but also find diamonds in the rough as recruits get coached up while getting to know each other.

The Swamp will once again filled with some of the top young talent in the nation on July 27, so much so that covering every player that plans to step on the field is a near impossibility. Below are a list of 10 players (in no particular order) to keep an eye on either because of their talent or high level of interest in attending Florida.

DB Marcell Harris (Orlando, FL) –
The No. 6 player at his position and ranked No. 54 overall in the 2013 class, Harris is a UF legacy (though that probably will not play much of a role in his decision) and will likely choose either Florida or Texas when all is said and done. The Gators got a big commitment from five-star defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III (Tampa, FL) on Thursday, so impressing or even adding Harris could go a long way to giving Florida an absolutely dominant secondary in the near future. His father is former safety Mike Harris, who played on the 1996 national championship team.

DE Jordan Sherit (Tampa, FL) –
Close friends with Hargreaves (the two actually arrived in Gainesville together on Thursday), Sherit is himself highly rated (No. 94 overall, No. 9 at his position) and could be yet another answer to the Gators pressing needs at Buck linebacker. He has long had Florida in his top 10 list and recently said it is one of four schools (Notre Dame, Stanford, Vanderbilt) he is looking at seriously despite having plenty of other offers (Clemson, Florida State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, etc.).

DE DeMarcus Walker (Jacksonville, FL) –
Another extremely talented player out of Jacksonville, Walker has his choice of any school in the country and will likely be picking between UF and Alabama when it comes down to the wire. Though some believe he is leaning towards the Crimson Tide, he has a lot of Gators commitments (including a handful from his hometown) in his ear and a trip to UF is the last visit he’s taking before his ceremony on Aug. 24.

Read up on seven more players attending Friday Night Lights…after the break!
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Will Muschamp on Florida’s 2012 recruiting class

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp held a press conference after his coaching staff received 23 National Letters of Intent on National Signing Day.

Opening statement:

“I’m real pleased with how recruiting went. Any time you get to this day, it’s a combination of a lot of hard work and effort by our staff. I think our staff did an outstanding job. You got to improve your program where you know you need to improve your program. Of the 23 players that joined our program today, 14 are line of scrimmage players – mid-skill and big-skill guys. We saw very easily in our season this year we struggled on both lines of scrimmage consistently being able to run the ball and stop the run. I certainly feel like we’ve addressed our most pressing need on both lines of scrimmage. We’ll develop playmakers and depth on both lines of scrimmage.

“I’m really excited about the guys we’ve got in that group and also eight skill guys, which includes a quarterback. We’d like to sign a quarterback every year. I think that’s important. A kicker, Austin Hardin, a guy that came in and did an outstanding job for us. We’re real pleased about him.

“We’ll know about this class in two or three years. I’ll tell you the same thing I did last year: Football is a developmental game, and you got to develop he players. I’m really excited about Jeff Dillman and Jesse Ackerman and our strength staff, our coaching staff – the job that they do in getting our players in here and doing a nice job with them. We’ll know a lot more about this class in two or three years. At the end of the day, this is a developmental game. We’ll be able to address that. It’s not about winning in February. It’s about winning in the fall and developing your football team and addressing your needs, and I think we’ve done that.”

» On Florida recruiting so well in the state of North Carolina:D.J. Durkin, first of all, is our area recruiter for that area. He does a really nice job of recruiting, period. It was a full team effort. [...] We honed in on the guys we want and the guys we feel like can come and make a difference in our program, and we go after those guys.”

» On three/four-star defensive end Alex McCalister: “Alex McCalister is a guy that came to our camp, he broad jumped over 10 feet, close to a 40” vertical leap. A guy that is 6’6” and 220 lbs., his best football is ahead of him. That’s a very, very explosive athlete and a guy that hasn’t played a whole lot of football.”

» On flipping five-star DE Dante Fowler: “You recruit through this process and sometimes when you get there on signing day, you’re leaving it up to the young man and his family to make a decision. I think Dante had a good fit here at Florida as far as his position was concerned, his opportunity was concerned. We’re excited to add another good pass rusher to our program.”

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Gators start 2013 class; RB Adam Lane commits

Just hours after landing a much-needed piece for the team’s 2012 recruiting class, the Florida Gators got their 2013 squad started with a bang by securing a commitment from ESPNU150 watch list running back Adam Lane (Winter Haven, FL).

Set to be one of the top-rated rushers in the 2013 recruiting class, Lane has long been the apple of Florida’s eye. Former running backs coach Stan Drayton (now with Ohio State) had been recruiting him since his freshman year, and current RB coach Brian White has been his primary recruiter ever since.

Lane formed a strong relationship with Drayton but told Rivals.com on Jan. 1 that he speaks with White the most out of any coach recruiting him. He is also close with head coach Will Muschamp and tight ends coach Derek Lewis.

Ohio State is one of a number of other big-time schools pursuing him as he claims offers from Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia and South Florida among others.

Lane, who broke his fibula just days into his junior season, ran a 4.5-second 40-yard-dash in late December while calling himself only “80 percent” healthy. At 5’7” and 207 lbs., he is the bruising, physical rusher that the Gators desperately need but will not be the only back the team plans on pursuing for 2013.

Florida will remain steadfast in trying to gain a pledge another rusher with their primary focus on Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade, FL), the son of former Gators star RB Fred Taylor. UF has also targeted Greg Bryant (Delray Beach, FL), Ryan Green (St. Petersburg, FL) and Georgia commit Derrick Henry (Yulee, FL).

GatorCountry.com first reported Lane’s commitment Saturday evening.

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