Readers’ Choice: Jim McElwain’s infrastructure rebuild starts with filling out Florida Gators staff

For five days from March 5-9, OnlyGators.com has handed a guest editor role over to you, the loyal reader. This is the third in five Readers’ Choice posts covering topics you want to know more about concerning the Florida Gators athletics program.

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Updated on March 10 at 1:30 p.m.

Among other buzz words Florida head coach Jim McElwain has thrown out when speaking about the task that lies ahead of him to rebuild the Gators football program, improving the “infrastructure” has been at the top of the list.

Most think of the term “infrastructure” as relating to physical facilities, and in that regard, Florida is already taking steps forward by spending $15 million on an indoor practice facility set to open in September, making plans to improve the locker room and training area, redesigning and increasing the space and flow of the football offices, and looking at how to improve the athletic dorms.

But to McElwain, “infrastructure” also includes the Gators’ top-to-bottom organization from assistant coaches and operations directors to quality control coaches and staff assistants.

Continue Reading » Readers’ Choice: Jim McElwain’s infrastructure rebuild starts with filling out Florida Gators staff

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FOUR BITS: Fowler, Muschamp, Gordon, Mincey

1 » Former Florida Gators defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., who decided to forego his final year of collegiate eligibility and declare for the 2015 NFL Draft, took out an advertisement in The Gainesville Sun on Friday, thanking Gators fans for his time with the program. Fowler is expected to be an early first-round selection in the draft and has been projected as high as No. 3 overall. In case you’re having trouble with the copy, it reads as follows: “Thank you Gator Nation for all the support and love the past three years. We’ve got the best fans in the land. I’ll forever bleed Orange & Blue.”


2 » New Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp – and defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson, for that matter – had shown no love for Florida on the recruiting trail to this point as the duo has not paused in going after players they were recruiting to join the Gators when they were both members of the program. But Muschamp did show his soft side for Florida on Thursday. According to 247Sports.com‘s Luke Stampini, Muschamp praised the Gators to three-star DE G.G. Robinson (Lilburn, GA) after learning Robinson was not interested in playing for the Tigers. “He talked good about Florida the whole time. He told me to have fun and said, ‘It’s nice.’ He said I’d like the weather,” Robinson said. “He also said Jim McElwain is probably about to turn the program around. I expected him to say something bad about them, but he didn’t.” Robinson is visiting UF this weekend, the last of the 2015 recruiting cycle.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Fowler, Muschamp, Gordon, Mincey

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12 Gator Bites for Wednesday, January 22

From time to time, OnlyGators.com will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Returns from the first two days of practice ahead of the 2014 Senior Bowl have been positive for the three Florida Gators in attendance with cornerback and OnlyGators.com Path to the Draft blogger Jaylen Watkins drawing the most rave reviews on Tuesday. “Watkins balled out today,” said Scout.com’s Jamie Newberg. “Had [a] pick, caused fumble & at least five [pass breakups].” Concurred CBSSports.com’s Dane Brugler: “Watkins is one of the better players here that isn’t much talked about. I’m a big fan.” An AFC scout in attendance at the practices told OnlyGators.com that his team already has Watkins pegged as a potential second day draft selection.

» The first day of the inaugural all-star draft for the 2014 Pro Bowl was held on Tuesday with Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey going off the board as the first player chosen at his position. He will play for Team (Deion) Sanders. The second half of the draft will be held on Wednesday with Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden waiting to be picked.

» San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald tore his biceps tendon in Week 6 but played through the injury all the way up until his team fell in the NFC Championship on Sunday. Now done for the season, McDonald is scheduled to have the tendon reattached with a surgery upcoming, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Check out NINE more Gators news bites…after the break!
Continue Reading » 12 Gator Bites for Wednesday, January 22

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Florida announces hiring of Coleman Hutzler as special teams coach, replacing Jeff Choate

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp on Friday officially made a third adjustment to his coaching staff following the disastrous 2013 season, in which his team went 4-8, when he announced the resignation of special teams coordinator / outside linebackers coach Jeff Choate and subsequent hiring of Coleman Hutzler, who held the same position with the New Mexico Lobos.

FootballScoop.com and CoachingSearch.com both reported the transition Thursday night.

Choate, who left a position as defensive coordinator with UTEP in January – just three months after taking the job – for the opportunity to coach at Florida, came highly recommended by former offensive coordinator Brent Pease, whom he coached side-by-side with at Boise State from 2006-11.

Hutzler worked at Stanford as a recruiting assistant (2007) and defensive/special teams assistant (2008-09) while current Gators defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin served as special teams coordinator at the school. He joined Durkin at Florida in 2010 under then-head coach Urban Meyer as a defensive/special teams assistant, remaining with the program in 2011. He was hired by New Mexico in 2012 at his current position.

“Coleman is a young coach with a very bright future,” said Muschamp in a school release. “He has a great work ethic and obviously is very familiar with our special teams’ schemes. It will be a seamless transition for our players.”

Said Hutzler: “I’m excited to be returning to Gainesville and be a part of the Gator family again. I enjoyed my time there and have the utmost respect for Coach Muschamp and the administrative team in place at Florida. I understand the value placed on special teams under Coach Muschamp, and look forward to getting to work.”

Former Gators punter Chas Henry told OnlyGators.com Thursday night that he felt Florida was bringing back someone who could help the program going forward.

“He was a great young coach while I was there, seemed to absorb everything that coaches were teaching as a graduate assistant,” Henry said.

Continue Reading » Florida announces hiring of Coleman Hutzler as special teams coach, replacing Jeff Choate

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