Gators add pledge from 2015 TE Camrin Knight

The recruiting hot streak the Florida Gators are on coming out of Junior Day continued on Wednesday with tight end/linebacker Camrin Knight (Tallahassee, FL) choosing to continue his career two hours south of his hometown in Gainesville, FL.

“Committed to the University of Florida Proud to be part of the #GatorNation #Blessed #CHOMPCHOMP,” he wrote on his Twitter account Wednesday night.

A dual-sport athlete who is also a star on the Lincoln High School basketball team, Knight (6-foot-4, 220 lbs.) received a flurry of offers this month with interest coming in from Georgia Tech, Eastern Carolina, Cincinnati and Maryland. He visited Florida for Junior Day last weekend.

Knight, who was recruited by tight ends coach Derek Lewis and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, has spent most of his high school career playing linebacker but played some tight end as a junior and projects better as a high-upside offensive playmaker.

He is the Gators’ fifth 2015 commitment, all five of which are from the state of Florida. UF has received four of those pledges in the last six days.

Three of Florida’s five commitments – defensive back Deontai Williams (Jacksonville, FL), offensive lineman Tyler Jordan and wide receiver Deondre Farrier (Orlando, FL) – are rated as three-star recruits by Rivals.com. The other two, Knight and WR Tristan Payton (Jacksonville, FL), are unranked as of press time.

As a result, the Gators’ recruiting class is currently ranked 28th by Rivals.com. Florida and Miami are the only two of 15 programs with five or more commitments to have none of those five players ranked higher than a three-star prospect by the recruiting service.

Analysts with a number of recruiting services tell OnlyGators.com that many 2015 prospects are still awaiting evaluation.

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Reports: Florida Gators to hire Duke’s Kurt Roper as next offensive coordinator

Duke Blue Devils offensive coordinator Kurt Roper will be hired to the same position with the Florida Gators, according to an ESPN report released Tuesday citing sources.

Laura Keeley of the Raleigh News & Observer and CBSSports.com‘s Bruce Feldman both confirmed ESPN‘s initial report.

Roper arrived in Gainesville, FL, for an official interview with Florida head coach Will Muschamp at 8 a.m. on Monday, according to travel records from the University Athletic Association’s private jet. The same plane departed Gainesville hours later, returning Roper to Raleigh, NC, shortly after 4 p.m.

One of five finalists for the 2013 Broyles Award, which is handed out annually to the best assistant coach in college football, Roper is in his fifth season with the Blue Devils and also serves as the program’s assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach.

His unit has finished in the top 70 nationally each of the last two seasons in both scoring and total offense by utilizing a pass-heavy attack.

Muschamp has been telling players and recruits that UF hopes to switch to an up-tempo spread offense in 2013.

Duke is scheduled to face Texas A&M in the 2013 Chick-Fil-A Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 31 at 8 p.m. in Atlanta, GA. It is currently unknown whether Roper will remain with the team through the bowl game before beginning his duties at Florida.

Roper has been a highly-regarded assistant throughout his career, which includes plenty of experience in the Southeastern Conference. He started off by serving as a graduate assistant at Tennessee (1996-98) before moving on to Ole Miss and working under David Cutcliffe as a quarterbacks coach (1999-01) and passing game coordinator (2002-04). In the latter role, Roper helped direct Eli Manning to a 2003 SEC Player of the Year Award; he would eventually become the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.

Continue Reading » Reports: Florida Gators to hire Duke’s Kurt Roper as next offensive coordinator

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Highlights from Reddit AMA with Jesse Schmitt

Former Florida Gators walk-on running back Jesse Schmitt held a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) question-and-answer session on Monday and revealed some interesting facts about the four years he spent playing college football in Gainesville, FL.

Below are some of Schmitt’s most interesting responses, slightly edited for clarity.

» On a crazy workout story involving Omarius Hines: “Our former RB Omarius Hines is the most muscular human being I’ve ever met. He looks like an action figure, and I am in no way exaggerating that. It’s insane. Apparently, during a leg press set, his quadriceps muscle actually tore through his skin. Basically, his leg exploded. This was all way back though, maybe 2009-2010. But he couldn’t work out for the longest time after that, and they still never let him max out leg press ever again. I wasn’t around for this, mind you, so I heard that second hand. But I believe it.”

» On the intensity of tight ends coach Derek Lewis: “Before every game, Coach Lewis is pacing through the locker room, screaming a motivation for the upcoming game. Not necessarily nice things about the other team, but to the effect of ‘They come in the Swamp? And they think they can play with you? No sir, not here, no way.’ And he gets progressively more and more worked up. Usually its good stuff, we get a chuckle out of it, some guys get hyped up, and it’s just part of the pre-game tradition.

“But before the LSU game, he was in great form. That was our biggest home game last year, No. 10 Florida vs. No. 2 LSU. We knew we they were a good team, we knew we were too. Everyone was psyched, and Coach Lewis even more so. We walk-ons heard him in the main part of the locker room raving like usual, and then a gigantic crash. I ran out to see he had punched THROUGH a whiteboard we had up to diagram plays and game plan, completely shattering it.

“Worse still, when he ripped his arm back through it, the jagged edges cut his arm, badly. I mean, arterial spray badly. Luckily there were some towels nearby, someone slapped them on him, the trainers were literally 25 feet away, and they got him to Shands Hospital. He could easily have died, if medical help wasn’t right there.

“After we won that game, he joyously yelled out in the locker room, ‘I’m gonna damn near kill myself before every game! Get me another board! I’ll punch that one too!’”

Continue Reading » Highlights from Reddit AMA with Jesse Schmitt

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Inside the 2013 Gator Women’s Football Clinic

Long-time OnlyGators.com reader Jennifer contacted us last week and offered to share her experience after attending the Florida Gators annual Women’s Football Clinic hosted this year on Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Below is her account from the exciting evening (pictures included).

This past weekend, I was able to experience the Gator Women’s Football Clinic for the second time in the last three years. The coaching staff dubbed it “Saturday Night Lights” this year probably because the event was held at night at the Champions Club inside The Swamp rather than during the day like it was when I attended two years ago.

After checking in, we were provided with dinner and then allowed to walk around and take pictures, both inside and outside. We also met with the coaching staff; everyone was there except offensive coordinator Brent Pease.

Some coaches had spots set up for autographs and others were just out and about mingling with the crowd. Even after their big Friday Night Lights event, the coaches were still excited for our night and very personable.

We got a chance to speak briefly with [wide receivers coach] Joker Phillips, and he seems like a great new addition for the program.

Offensive line coach Tim Davis became my favorite after we got the chance to interact with him. He was the most engaging when talking with us and was a very funny guy. He kept referencing his “mass kicks ass” tagline.

One thing a bunch of the coaches were having a good time joking around about was the insane line to meet with [coaching intern] Chris Leak. Until [head coach] Will Muschamp came out, Chris was the most popular among the women there. True to form, Chris was incredibly humble and expressed his excitement and appreciation for this opportunity to start his coaching career. He took time to speak with each person that came up to him, and it was awesome to have to chance to be able to meet this Florida football legend.

Read the rest of Jennifer’s story including some interesting details and cool pictures from the event…after the break!
Continue Reading » Inside the 2013 Gator Women’s Football Clinic

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2016 CB Tre Jackson, a Florida legacy, commits

Though the weekend of Friday Night Lights is always a big one for prospects in the current recruiting cycle, the Florida Gators are certainly not opposed to looking ahead to the future as the program decided to accept a commitment on Friday from 2016 cornerback Tre Jackson (Baton Rouge, LA).

The son of former Gators wide receiver Jack Jackson, who registered 143 catches for 2,266 yards with 29 touchdowns (including an NCAA-high 15 in 1994) during his three-year career at Florida, Tre Jackson becomes the latest legacy to decide that he will follow in his father’s footsteps and choose UF as his collegiate home.

His father, the 1994 SEC Offensive Player of the Year, was also a consensus first-team All-American and first-team All-SEC selection that season. He decided to forgo his senior season of eligibility and was selected in the fourth round of the 1994 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. Jack Jackson would only play in the NFL for two seasons before concluding his career in the AFL.

Tre Jackson said in June that UF was the very first school to offer him a scholarship. He committed to head coach Will Muschamp and tight ends coach Derek Lewis, a native of New Orleans, LA, who has done a terrific job reeling in top talent from his home state.

Though the Gators do not yet have a 2015 pledge, Jackson becomes Florida’s second 2016 commitment, joining wide receiver/cornerback Tyler Byrd (Naples, FL), who announced his decision on June 20.

Jackson (5-foot-9, 165-pounds) also plays wide receiver for University Lab High School.

He is UF’s third commitment in as many days following pledges from three-star 2014 lineman Dontae Angus (New Orleans, LA) on Wednesday and three-star defensive end Justus Reed (Clearwater, FL) on Thursday.

Check out the Gators’ updated 2014 and 2016 recruiting classes by clicking here.

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Gators release contracts for 2013 coaching staff

In his third year at the helm of the Florida Gators, head coach Will Muschamp was forced to hire three new position coaches and find a new defensive coordinator as adjustments were made to the coaching staff following the 2012 season.

According to information released by Florida on Wednesday, offensive coordinator Brent Pease received a $100,000 hike in his annual salary as well as a one-year contract extension. Pease also earns annual retention bonuses of $100,000.

New special teams coordinator/outside linebackers coach Jeff Choate will be paid $290,000 in his first year on the job ($100,000 higher than the contract he signed to be defensive coordinator at UTEP). Additionally, offensive line coach Tim Davis and tight ends coach Derek Lewis each received $25,000 salary bumps.

The figures for defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin, wide receivers coach Joker Phillips and defensive line coach Brad Lawing were previously released on March 1.

A look at the coaching staff’s 2013 salaries compared with their counterparts in 2012:

2013 Coach2013 Salary2012 Coach2012 Salary
Will Muschamp
Head Coach
$2.75M
(5 years)*
Will Muschamp
Head Coach
$2.75M
(5 years)
Brent Pease
Offensive Coordinator / QB
$590K
(3 years)^
Brent Pease
Offensive Coordinator / QB
$490K
(3 years)
D.J. Durkin
Defensive Coordinator / ILB
$490K
(2 years)~
Dan Quinn
Defensive Coordinator / DL
$510K
(2 years)
Jeff Choate
Special Teams Coordinator / OLB
$290K
(1 year)
D.J. Durkin
Special Teams Coordinator / LB
$340K
(2 years)
Brad Lawing
Assistant Head Coach / DL
$390K
(3 years)
Bryant Young
Assistant Defensive Line
$230K
(1 year left)
Brian White
Running Backs
$290K
(1 year)
Brian White
Running Backs
$290K
(1 year)
Tim Davis
Offensive Line
$300K
(1 year)
Tim Davis
Offensive Line
$275K
(1 year)
Joker Phillips
Wide Receivers / Recruiting
$265K
(2 years)
Aubrey Hill
Wide Receivers / Recruiting
$230K
(1 year)
Travaris Robinson
Defensive Backs
$290K
(1 year)
Travaris Robinson
Defensive Backs
$230K
(1 year)
Derek Lewis
Tight Ends
$215K
(1 year)
Derek Lewis
Tight Ends
$190K
(1 year)
Jeff Dillman
Strength & Conditioning
$215K
(1 year)`
Jeff DIllman
Strength & Conditioning
$215K
(2 years)
* Muschamp received a one-year contract extension through the 2017 season.
^ Pease received a one-year contract extension through the 2015 season.
~ Durkin received a $150,000 raise as he moved from special teams to defensive coordinator and agreed to a new two-year contract.
` Dillman is in the second year of a two-year contract signed in 2012.
- Florida generally signs most of its assistant coaches to one-year renewable contracts (Choate, White, Davis, Robinson, Lewis).
- The Gators are spending $275,000 more in salary than the program did in 2012.

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

The Orlando Sentinel and multiple other media outlets obtained the salary information referenced above directly from the University of Florida.

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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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Verducci out, Davis in as Florida OL coach

When former offensive coordinator Charlie Weis left the Florida Gators to take the head coaching job with the Kansas Jayhawks, it was assumed that offensive line coach Frank Verducci, who worked with Weis at Notre Dame, would soon follow.

Verducci instead stayed put in Gainesville, FL for the time being has now moved on “to pursue other interests,” according to a Florida release, as the Gators announced Monday that the Utah UtesTim Davis will take over for him in 2012.

The Gainesville Sun reports that Verducci was fired after pursuing jobs in the NFL (including one with the Kansas City Chiefs). A source close to the team tells OGGOA that head coach Will Muschamp was not properly informed about the job search.

A veteran coach with more than two decades in the business, Davis has worked on the offensive line with Walla Walla (1988), Idaho State (1989), Utah (1990-96, 2011), USC (2002-04), the Miami Dolphins (2005-06) and Minnesota (2009-10).

He was also a volunteer, student assistant and graduate assistant at Utah, Wisconsin and Arizona for seven years (1981-87) and served double duty as offensive coordinator at Walla Walla and tight ends coach at Utah (1994-96).

Following his time as assistant offensive line coach under Nick Saban at Miami, Davis spent a year as Saban’s director of player personnel with Alabama (2008). He added the role of running game coordinator when he took the Minnesota job in 2009.

Davis and Muschamp are connected through Saban, both having served on the Dolphins’ coaching staff during the 2005 season. Muschamp spent just one year in the NFL before returning to college the following season.

“He was a guy that brought energy and passion to the job every day,” Muschamp said of Davis’s attitude while with Miami. “He is going to bring toughness. I thought he did a great job with our offensive line [with the Dolphins]. Everywhere he has been and he’s coached they have been able to run the football and create the play-actions of it, be able to spread the field, understand the protections and do what you’ve got to do to be able to keep the quarterback upright.

“You look at some of the guys he has worked for and you talk about Barry Alvarez, you talk about Nick Saban, you talk about Pete Carroll. You talk about those guys and what they have accomplished. He knows what it takes to be successful.”

Davis actually pursued the offensive line coach job with Florida when Muschamp took over in 2011, but Weis’s relationship with Verducci obviously took precedent.

“It wasn’t available then,” Davis said. “I told [Muschamp], ‘Well, I’m going to be persistent. I’m going to keep trying.’ I always wanted to work and coach in the SEC, especially with guys I know and have coached with.”

Though Davis has been a part of three BCS bowl teams and two national championships as a member of USC’s coaching staff, he has never coached alongside new Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease.

He did, however, work on staffs with current Florida running backs coach Brian White and tight ends coach Derek Lewis. Davis spent his four-year tenure at Wisconsin with White, three years of which White also served as offensive coordinator. Lewis, an assistant with Minnesota from 2007-10, worked with Davis for two years.

“It was easy [to make the move] because of Will and Dan and Brian and D-Lew,” he said. “You don’t make a decision like this – leaving your home state and everybody you know – without having somebody you know. That’s one of the things in coaching you can’t do. You have to be able to connect yourself with the guys you work with.

“The SEC is the premiere conference in the country, and you get a chance to work with guys you’ve worked with who are very successful, very motivated, they want to be the best. You’re working in a great environment and a great program like Florida. It’s everything that you dream about.”

Photo Credit: Mike Terry, Deseret News

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