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.

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Gators special teams not so special in 2013

For a squad that boasted arguably the best special teams unit in the nation in 2012, the Florida Gators lack of production and consistency on the “third side of the ball” this season is especially concerning.

Head coach Will Muschamp said as much during his weekly press conference on Monday when he addressed the special teams unit as a whole.

“Our specialists need to get better. We’re not very productive at the punter position right now, or placekicker. We didn’t really affect the game as far as special teams are concerned like we have in our previous time here,” he explained. “We need to get better on special teams as far as affecting the game. We have not done that much, certainly last Saturday didn’t have any affect.”

Though the Gators lost kicker Caleb Sturgis, a multiple school record holder and back-to-back Lou Groza Award finalist, Florida retained its Ray Guy Award finalist punter from a year ago in junior Kyle Christy.

A 2012 First Team All-American, Christy averaged 45.8 yards on 66 punts and hit at least one punt of 53 yards or further in 10 of 13 games last year. Through three games this season, Christy has only boomed one total punt that far with most being substantially shorter. He is averaging just 40.9 yards per attempt.

“I’m going to open it up with Kyle,” Muschamp said, referring the competition for the starting job. “Johnny Townsend has been a guy that has probably been as consistent a punter as we’ve had in camp. We’ll pull the redshirt off Johnny if we need to. We need to get more production at the punter position and that’s what we’ll do.”

Former Florida P Eric Wilbur, who played four years with the Gators from 2003-06, has watched Christy since his freshman year in 2011 and known Townsend personally through his entire punting career. He spoke with OnlyGators.com on Monday about the team’s situation at the position.

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Gameday: No. 10 Florida Gators vs. Toledo

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 85°F, partly cloudy / scattered t-stomrs (20%), winds SW at 6 mph
Time: 12:21 p.m. EDT

Tickets: Best deals on Florida Gators tickets starting at $28 on TiqIQ

TV: SEC Network (Dave Neal, Andre Ware, Cara Capuano) [Affiliates]
SiriusXM: 136/201 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3.com | Mobile Video: None
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

No. 10 FLORIDA GATORS TOLEDO ROCKETS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Matt Campbell
Record: 0-0 Record: 0-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Mid-American
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -22 | O/U: 55.5

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida and Toledo have never played on the gridiron*, but UF is 14-1 in the last two seasons against unranked opponents under Muschamp.
» The Rockets have never played a team from the SEC.
» The Gators are 79-27 all-time in season openers (64-6 in Gainesville) and have won 23-straight games to begin a season, the longest streak in the SEC and second-longest streak in the nation (Nebraska, 27).
» UF opens the 2013 campaign ranked in the polls for the 23rd-straight season but in the top 10 for the first time since 2010.
» Toledo finished 9-4 (6-2 MAC) in 2012 and are also coming a devastating bowl game loss, falling 41-15 to Utah in the 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
» Entering the season, Florida has what is widely considered as the toughest schedule in the country with four games scheduled against preseason top-15 opponents plus a road game at Miami in Week 2.
» In 2012, the Gators finished a 7-0 at home for just the third time in school history, a mark that matched the 2006 and 2009 UF teams.
» Florida is 12-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards (1-5 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards). The Gators are also 14-3 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 10-2 when an opponent rushes for fewer than 100 yards, 12-3 when scoring first (6-5 when an opponent scores first) and 14-1 when leading at the half (4-7 when tied or trailing at the break).
» UF’s .878 (129-18) home winning percentage is best in the nation since 1990.
» Florida still leads the nation in interceptions (96), interception return yards (1,688) and interceptions returned for touchdowns (16) since 2008.
» Wide receivers coach Joker Phillips and special teams coordinator Jeff Choate are new additions to the Gators’ coaching staff. Also helping the team this season are thee former Florida players – undergraduate assistant Mike Peterson and graduate assistants Chris Leak and Duke Lemmens.
» Safety Jordan Haden, the brother of Joe Haden who transferred to Toledo after enrolling at UF in the spring of 2010, injured his collarbone and will not play Saturday.
» One-time Gators wide receiver commit Rodney Adams, who was unable to qualify academically, accepted an offer from the Rockets and will play in The Swamp.
» Toledo bested Florida in every offensive category rank in 2012, coming in ahead of their hosts in rushing offense (35-39), passing offense (48-114), total offense (32-103) and scoring offense (44-76) last season. The Gators, however, were miles ahead in defensive ranks including rushing defense (4-78), passing defense (17-116), total defense (5-109) and scoring defense (5-67).

Read about the injuries and absences and much more…after the break!

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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!
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2013 SEC Media Days – Gators ready to rock

Florida Gators at 2013 SEC Media Days: Game times vs. Toledo, Miami set | Muschamp: I’m “100% responsible” for players | Easley steals the show | VIDEOS: Florida players have fun interviewing each other

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp, junior quarterback Jeff Driskel, senior defensive lineman Dominique Easley and redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio represented the team on Tuesday by participating at the 2013 Southeastern Conference Media Days at the Winfrey Hotel in Hoover, AL. Below are highlights from Muschamp’s session along with some player comments.

MUSCHAMP FIRES A SHOT AT URBAN MEYER

Before he stepped up to the main podium, Muschamp spoke with reporters in a side session and was asked about Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer turning in Florida and running backs coach Brian White (Meyer’s former team and former assistant coach) for a minor secondary recruiting violation. Meyer and OSU also reported UF for what they perceived to be another recruiting violation last year.

“We appreciate our friends from Ohio making sure we are compliant with NCAA rules,” Muschamp said, according to Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples. “They certainly know something about NCAA rules.”

Muschamp continued: “It’s really a dead issue. In both situations we were turned in by Ohio, the University of Florida didn’t do anything wrong.”

PUNISHMENT STILL UP IN THE AIR

Muschamp also told reporters that he has not decided whether sophomore linebacker Antonio Morrison will be suspended for any games due to his arrest on a charge of misdemeanor simple battery one month ago. He has already been disciplined by the Gators but additional punishment has yet to be determined.

Morrison accepted a deferred prosecution agreement from the State of Florida and will pay fines, perform community service and complete other tasks during a six-month probationary period in order to get the charge expunged from his record.

INJURY UPDATES

Muschamp announced Tuesday that only two players would be limited heading into fall training camp – redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Trip Thurman and freshman LB Alex Anzalone – both of whom are nursing shoulder injuries after going under the knife during the spring.

He expects both players to eventually return to practice in the fall but noted that each would likely miss 10-12 sessions before being cleared by team trainers. Otherwise, he believes the Gators are “pretty healthy” on the injury front.

Redshirt junior BUCK Ronald Powell, who missed the entire 2012 season with a pair of anterior cruciate ligament surgeries, will be cleared for the start of fall practice.

“Probably the guy I’m most excited to see is Ronald Powell,” Muschamp said. “Here is a guy who has been through a lot of adversity. He’s been cleared to go after it in fall camp. A guy I’m really excited to get back on the field to see is No. 7 running around in orange and blue, a guy that’s been through an awful lot. Two surgeries. Never complained. Never got down about anything. [He] is truly a great individual and excited that he’s a leader of our football team as well.”

POSITION-BY-POSITION ANALYSIS

As part of his 2,400-word filibuster opening statement, Muschamp went in-depth about each position on the Florida football team and often spoke at length about particular players. Below is a breakdown of what he had to say about those positions.

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Wyoming’s Taven Bryan commits to Florida

Late Monday night, three-star 2014 prospect Taven Bryan (Casper, WY) officially announced his commitment to play football for the Florida Gators next season.

“I have committed to play for the Florida Gators. Go Gators!!!!!” he wrote on his Facebook page, also adding a picture of the team’s logo as his cover photo.

A 6-foot-5, 250-pound offensive tackle, Bryan is being recruited by Florida to play defensive end, according to InsidetheGators.com’s Blake Alderman.

He has slowly been picking up major offers from programs across the country, but a visit to Gainesville, FL, over the weekend for the Gators’ first football camp of the summer – coupled with a scholarship offer from head coach Will Muschamp – left Bryan knowing exactly where he wanted to attend college.

According to Rivals.com, he will be the first prospect from the state of Wyoming to sign with an automatic qualifying conference since at least 2002.

Bryan, who also competes in track & field (discus, shot put) at Natrona County High School, chose Florida over offers from California, Colorado, Nebraska, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington and Wyoming, among others.

With two members of the Gators’ coaching staff – offensive coordinator Brent Pease and special teams coordinator Jeff Choate – having spent much of their careers playing and coaching in Idaho and Montana, Florida being involved with Bryan’s recruitment is not a surprising development.

He is the Gators’ 10th pledge of the 2014 cycle and the team’s second defensive lineman, joining four-star defensive tackle Anthony Moten (Fort Lauderdale, FL).

Photo Credit: Taven Bryan’s Facebook page

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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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Florida hires Jeff Choate as special teams coach

The vacancy created on the Florida Gators coaching staff when defensive line coach Bryant Young resigned one week ago has already be filled. The school officially announced on Wednesday that UTEP Miners defensive coordinator Jeff Choate has been added as the new special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach.

“We are excited to have Jeff Choate join our staff,” said Florida head coach Will Muschamp in a school release. “He is a high-energy coach, an outstanding recruiter and evaluator, and has a reputation as one of the top special-teams coaches in the nation. He has coached on both sides of the ball and was most recently a defensive coordinator. He sees the big picture and will be a great addition to our staff. We are very much on the same page philosophically.”

Choate, who accepted the position at UTEP just over three months ago on Jan. 8, after the program hired Sean Kugler to be its head coach, was the linebackers coach at Washington State under Mike Leach during the 2012 season.

He spent the previous six years primarily as special teams coordinator for the Boise State Broncos. During his tenure at Boise State, Choate also coached running backs (2006-08), linebackers (2009) and nickel backs (2010-11). He was a member of the same coaching staff as current Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease, who also worked with the Broncos from 2006-11.

Muschamp has been looking to fill his squad’s special teams coordinator job ever since he promoted D.J. Durkin to defensive coordinator following the 2012 season. He originally stated that special teams, in absence of its own coach, would be taught collectively by his staff. However, following Young’s resignation, Muschamp conceded that he would prefer to bring on a special teams coach.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to join the Gator staff and have the chance to compete at the highest level,” Choate said. “I’ve gotten to know Coach Muschamp over the past couple of years and have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a coach and a person. I’m looking forward to continuing the great special-teams tradition that has been established here and can’t wait to get to work. I would also like to thank everyone at UTEP, and most importantly Coach Kugler, for the support and opportunity they gave me. I wish him and the program nothing but the best of luck.”

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