Florida football preview: 54 facts, stats and tidbits

In an attempt to preview the 108th season of Florida Gators football, OnlyGators.com decided to find 108 interesting facts, important statistics and relevant historical tidbits about the team. The process proved to be more daunting than initially expected.

Below you will find 54 different notes to prime you for the 2014 campaign, which kicks off against the Idaho Vandals on Saturday, Aug. 30 live from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, at 7 p.m.

1. Florida finished 2013 with a 4-8 record, putting together its first losing season since it went winless (0-10-1) in 1979. UF rebounded to finish 8-4 in 1980, setting an NCAA record for best turnaround in major college football history at the time. The Gators were also the first team ever to play in a bowl game after failing to win a game the season prior.

2. Will Muschamp (43) is the second-youngest coach in the SEC behind Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen (42).

3. Muschamp’s 22-16 record through three seasons (2011-13) is the worst for a Florida head coach in that span since Charley Pell went 15-19-1 from 1979-81.

4. Kurt Roper is Muschamp’s third offensive coordinator in four seasons and UF’s fifth in the last seven years, while Mike Summers is Muschamp’s third offensive line coach in four seasons.

5…starters played in all 12 games for Florida in 2013.

Continue Reading » Florida football preview: 54 facts, stats and tidbits

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Gators add commitment in 2015 WR Derrick Dillon

Still in need of playmakers, the Florida Gators added an underrated yet extremely talented prospect on Friday when the program gained a commitment from 2015 athlete Derrick Dillon (Franklinton, Louisiana).

A three-star prospect according to Rivals, Dillon (5-foot-11, 175 pounds) is rated as a four-star recruit by ESPN, which lists him as the No. 145 overall player in the nation.

He projects as a dynamic slot wide receiver in college but plays both ways for Pine High School, seeing time at quarterback and in the defensive backfield.

Dillon, who was recruited by Louisiana native and Gators tight ends coach Derek Lewis, chose Florida over a variety of quality offers from schools like Florida State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M and UCLA, among others.

UF offered Dillon on Jan. 9 and saw him pay unofficial visits to the campus in both March and April for the 2014 Orange & Blue Debut.

He is the eighth player to commit to the Gators for 2015, joining three-star Tristan Payton (Jacksonville, Florida) as UF’s second wideout. Florida and three-star WR Deondre Farrier, who gave a pledge to the Gators on Feb. 21, have parted ways.

Dillon’s decision was first reported by InsidetheGators.com‘s Blake Alderman.

CommitmentPos.RivalsESPNOverall
» Jacksonville, FL | Story
» Height: 6'5" | Weight: 270 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 2/22/14
OTNR | 107
» Franklinton, LA | Story
» Height: 5'11" | Weight: 175 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 5/30/14
WRNR | 145
» Atlanta, GA | Story
» Height: 6'4" | Weight: 320 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 7/31/14
O/DLNR | 246
» Warner Robbins, GA | Story
» Height: 6'3" | Weight: 332 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 8/13/2014
OLNR
» Tallahassee, FL | Story
» Height: 6'4" | Weight: 220 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 2/26/14
TENR
» Dade City, FL | Story
» Height: 6'3" | Weight: 285 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 5/29/14
DTNR
» Neptune Beach, FL | Story
» Height: 6'4" | Weight: 198 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 7/29/2014
WRNR

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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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