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!
Continue Reading » Previewing Florida’s 2012 Friday Night Lights

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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.”

Continue Reading » Will Muschamp on Florida’s 2012 recruiting class

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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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Muschamp answers questions about Pease hire

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp held a 20-minute-long press conference on Wednesday to officially announce his hiring of Brent Pease as the team’s new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Throughout the course of the interview, Muschamp answered a number of questions fans undoubtedly have expressed about Pease, new strength and condition coach Jeff Dillman and the team heading into the 2012 season. Aside from his opening statement, OGGOA has rearranged and grouped Muschamp’s responses together in different categories for clarity.

OPENING STATEMETNS

On Pease: “Really excited to have Brent Pease join our staff as offensive coordinator. When you go out and talk to numerous people, many [of whom were] very qualified for this job, he really is the right fit for us. And really I go back to that word ‘fit.’ We have an outstanding offensive staff – Frank Verducci, Brian White, Aubrey Hill and Derek Lewis – and really it was about bringing a guy in that was going to be a good fit for the room, bring some new ideas, bring some new energy to what we’re trying to do but understand we’re not changing philosophically about where we’re headed with this thing. Understand what we need to do to continue to move forward, bring some new ideas as far as personnel groupings, formations and all that is great but understand we’re not changing who we are and what we are. Brent understands that.

“He’s got a great experience in a lot of different places. [Him] having coached in this league and called offenses in this league and in this stadium was important to me. He understands this stage and what you’ve got to do to be successful, and really offensively he’s been the backbone at what they’ve done at Boise for the last seven years. They’ve had tremendous success. Obviously coaching quarterbacks is his expertise and playing in the NFL as a quarterback [is a plus]. You also look at the success he had coaching wide receivers at Boise. He did an outstanding job with that group there.

“At the end of the day, [he can provide] the balance we want to remain on offense and [was] the right fit for we’re looking for. It’s really exciting. He watched our practice at the Gator Bowl practices, came back and he and his wife Paula, who’s wonderful, this past weekend came and spent the weekend in Gainesville and they wanted to be Gators. [They are] really excited.

“When you have an opportunity and you have an opening, you need to make sure you make yourself better. And I think we did with Brent, and I’m really excited about him being a part of our staff. He’s an outstanding recruiter. I ran across Brent about 12-14 years ago. I was at Valdosta State and he was at Northern Arizona. We were recruiting a young man out of Lowndes County – Vincent ‘Sweet Pea’ Burns. He got [him] to leave Lowndes County to go to Northern Arizona, so right then I knew he could recruit. He’s a guy that has been on my radar for a long time as a football coach. I faced him when we were at LSU and he was at Kentucky. Again, really liked what he did what he did with that team offensively, creating ways to get his playmakers the ball, creative in the play calling and the tempos and the different stuff. As he’s progressed, he and I have kept in pretty good contact through that time. A lot of respect for this guy as a football coach. When you meet him and get to know him, you’re going to see a very intelligent guy that is going to add a lot of the University of Florida. Really excited about this hire.”

On Dillman: “Also, after the bowl game, we named Jeff Dillman our head strength and conditioning coach. He will oversee all of our programs and was hired by the athletic department. Really excited about Jeff. Jeff and I were together at LSU – won a national championship together. He left and when to Appalachian State for three years where he won two national championships in ’06-’07. Jerry Moore, a guy who I have tremendous respect for at Appalachian State, I called and asked him about Jeff and he just had nothing but great things to say. Of course most recently he’s been working at IMG, preparing a lot of guys for the NFL Draft and then NFL players are coming back and training under him. He brings a lot of passion and energy and expertise in the weight room. We’re going to go to more of an Olympic-style lifting, what I was exposed to at LSU. Very excited about what he brings to the table.”

Continue Reading » Muschamp answers questions about Pease hire

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Brent Pease named Gators offensive coordinator

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp completed his 2012 coaching staff on Wednesday by hiring Brent Pease to succeed Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator.

A member of the Boise State Broncos’ staff since 2006, Pease has served as the team’s wide receivers coach (2006-10), assistant head coach (2007-10) and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (2011). Prior to his stint with Boise State, he was the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Baylor (2003-05), Kentucky (2001-02), Northern Arizona (1999-2000) and Montana (1996-98).

“I’ve had him on my radar for a while,” Muschamp said in an official school release. “I think we have improved our football program. We’re on the same page philosophically with what we want to be, and that to me is what strikes you the most. He’s not a stat guy. He is a guy who wants to win football games. If you look at the last six or seven years at Boise … they won football games. He was really a strong force behind what they have been doing offensively.”

“I’m excited to join the University of Florida football family and The Gator Nation,” Pease said in kind. “I’ve always had the utmost respect for Coach Muschamp and the UF program and I’m honored to have the opportunity to work at one of the premier institutions in the nation. I look forward to working with a tremendous coaching staff and, from what I hear, a great group of eager, young football players.

“Coach Muschamp and I share a lot of the same philosophies so this was a perfect fit. I want to be multiple in our offensive formations and have a balanced attack with tempo. I firmly believe in being fundamentally sound and red-zone efficient. I want to develop our players in a pro-style offense that can help them at the next level. ”

Pease signed a three-year contract with the University of Florida that is set to pay him approximately $500,000 annually, according to the Associated Press.

He arrived in Gainesville, FL last Friday afternoon, as OGGOA first reported, and met with Muschamp over the course of the weekend.

However, The Gainesville Sun‘s Pat Dooley revealed Tuesday that Muschamp first held an interview with Pease in late December in Jacksonville, FL as his team was practicing for the 2012 Gator Bowl. Dooley also reported that the Gators met with or interviewed 12-15 candidates before deciding to hire Pease, who was reportedly also being considered by head coach Nick Saban for the same job with Alabama.

In his one year as offensive coordinator at Boise State, Pease’s Broncos finished ninth in total offense (481.3 yards), fifth in scoring offense (44.2 points), 40th in rushing offense (171.9 yards) and 11th in passing offense (309.4 yards)

He will join a Florida team looking to improve its offense in a major way. The Gators were ranked No. 105 in total offense at the conclusion of the 2011-12 season, gaining just 328.7 yards per game. Florida was 71st nationally in scoring offense (25.5 points), 73rd in rushing offense (143.0 yards) and 89th in passing offense (185.7 yards).

Continue Reading » Brent Pease named Gators offensive coordinator

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2012 Gator Bowl: Florida vs. Ohio State post-game

The Florida Gators (7-6) capped their lackluster 2011 season with a rousing victory against the Ohio State Buckeyes (6-7) in the 2012 Gator Bowl at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL on Monday. After the contest, head coach Will Muschamp and some Florida players were made available to the media to discuss some of the notable occurrences before, during and after the game.

MUSCHAMP’s TWO POST-GAME STATEMENTS

Accepting the trophy on stage after the team sang the school alma mater and fight song, Muschamp delivered the following statement to his players, their families and the fans remaining in the crowd after the game:

“I can’t talk real well right now. I’m proud of these players, fighting through a tough situation, a tough transition, but they hung with us all the time. I appreciate the Gator Nation. We’re building a program, not a team, and it takes time, and I appreciate your patience. I’m going to tell you what. We’re going to have a better football team next year because of these young men you got right here. And you’ve got an outstanding staff. Go Gators.”

He began his post-game press conference in a similar fashion:

“[This was about] sending the seniors out the right way. We got a lot of good kids in that locker room. We got some guys that have had a very frustrating year. The realization of this whole thing, if you really want to see big picture, is in the last two years at the University of Florida we’re 15-11. That’s unacceptable. That’s what we are. We’re one game’s difference from last year. We’re 7-6; we were 8-5 last year. Sometimes I think you got to put your realistic glasses on of where you are and what you are as a program right at this point. And it’s not where we’re going to be very long, I can assure you of that. We’re moving in the right direction.

“I’m very pleased with the attitude and the effort and the drive of our young men. They kept fighting in the game and kept playing; they did it the entire season. I don’t think you could turn the tape on and watch a team that wasn’t giving effort, wasn’t trying to play with the right kind of toughness. It wasn’t always what we wanted at times. It was frustrating at times, and I appreciate the backing of our administration in what we’re trying to do. I’ve said it before and I mean this sincerely: We’re not building a team, we’re building a program. That takes a foundation to start, it really does. You stay the course with what you’re trying to do and what you believe in and the hardcore values of what you want. It isn’t always what you want. You get criticized and those sort of things, and that’s part of the deal. That’s part of being the head coach at the University of Florida, and I fully accept that.

“[I’m] excited for our football team. We need to get better and that starts with me. For our entire organization, 7-6 is not acceptable at the University of Florida. We’re looking forward to getting started on January 9. When we start school, we’re going to have a good team meeting that day and get these guys ready to go. That’s when our season starts for next year. It’s good momentum. There are a lot of guys out there knowing their opportunity to come a place like Florida, get an outstanding education, play for a great staff and be a part of a winning tradition..”

HIRING PROCESS WILL NOW BEGIN
Continue Reading » 2012 Gator Bowl: Florida vs. Ohio State post-game

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