Gators add commit No. 9 in LB Rayshad Jackson

The second commitment of the Jim McElwain era made his intentions known on Sunday as three-star outside linebacker Rayshad Jackson (Miami, FL) pulled the trigger for the Florida Gators.

Jackson (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) was a target of linebackers coach Randy Shannon and a former lean to Arkansas, where Shannon coached before being hired by Florida.

The ninth member of the Gators’ pedestrian 2015 recruiting class, Jackson is also the ninth three-star prospect on Florida’s list.

His commitment was first reported by ESPN‘s Derek Tyson.

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The Silver Lining for Monday, January 19: Florida wide receiver coach search, Gators recruiting

Missing: Wide Receivers Coach

New Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain was methodical in filling out his initial staff, but a hole nevertheless remains with one assistant spot still yet to be filled as of press time.

Florida has not yet hired what will be its seventh wide receivers coach in as many seasons – seriously, seven in seven seasons – despite every other member on McElwain’s coaching staff not only being in the building but already having gone out on the road recruiting. Currently, the Gators are using director of player personnel Drew Hughes as their ninth recruiter with McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier paying extra-close attention to available wideouts.

So why exactly does Florida still have this position open and when will a hire be made?

Well, let’s just say the Gators are in no rush. A source close to the program told OnlyGators.com over the weekend that one reason why Florida has not filled the role is because a number of the coaches being considered for the position are currently in the NFL. Professional staffs have yet to fully shake out due to head coaching changes throughout the league and there are still head coach positions available.

Continue Reading » The Silver Lining for Monday, January 19: Florida wide receiver coach search, Gators recruiting

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Florida Gators coaches confident that recruiting will come alive as dead period ends

With the dead period over, nine Florida Gators staff members hit the recruiting trail on Thursday to salvage the program’s 2015 class. Standing at just eight commitments with no four- or five-star pledges, Florida’s class has plenty of spots to fill – and the coaches have little time to get it done.

National Signing Day is set for Wednesday, Feb. 4, giving the Gators just three weeks to lock up 15-20 players. This is why it was imperative for Florida to bring on head coach Jim McElwain – and for McElwain, in turn, to get his coordinators hired – early in December so the program could get an early start on re-recruiting players.

According to McElwain, that foresight paid off.

“We’ve gotten great buzz, and yet, time will tell. Obviously the guys that we put in place have value to these recruits as they want to perfect their craft at their individual positions moving forward,” he said of his staff. “They’re good dudes, man. They’re a lot of fun to be around. They got energy and they care about kids and they care about being involved in young men’s lives, not just in football.”

Continue Reading » Florida Gators coaches confident that recruiting will come alive as dead period ends

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No wholesale changes, just more swag and edge coming for Florida’s defense under Geoff Collins

More Florida Gators assistant features: Randy Shannon | Terrell Williams | Tim Skipper

There was enough wrong with – and enough changes coming to – the Florida Gators that the last thing the program needed was to mess with the one thing that has been a bright spot over the last four years, it’s defense.

So when head coach Jim McElwain was tasked with replacing the combined defensive leadership of Will Muschamp and D.J. Durkin, he decided not to rock the boat.

Enter 2014 Broyles Award nominee and former Mississippi State defensive coordinator Geoff Collins, whose experience under Nick Saban (at Alabama) and veterans George O’Leary (at UCF) and John L. Smith (at Louisville) made him a no-brainer hire for McElwain.

“They’ve done a really good job. Coach Muschamp and I know each other. D.J. and I know each other. I have a lot of respect for what they’ve done on defense the last four years. The talent that has been assembled here is legitimate SEC talent,” he said on Thursday. “It’s not a wholesale change. Let’s just work on finding the things we can get better at and take us to the next level. … Finding that edge and going out and getting it done so we can improve upon where we are right now.”

Collins plans to keep it simple, employing similar principles, concepts and techniques that were taught by Muschamp. There may be some terminology tweaks and a couple schemes added to the playbook, but it will be business as usual for the most part with Florida’s defense.

Continue Reading » No wholesale changes, just more swag and edge coming for Florida’s defense under Geoff Collins

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Passion, family made DL coach Terrell Williams leave the NFL – and California – for Florida

More Florida Gators assistant features: Randy Shannon | Geoff Collins | Tim Skipper

Playing, coaching and talking about the defensive line is what life is about for new Florida Gators assistant Terrell Williams. Well, that and his family, with those two passions combining into a perfect storm that led him to Gainesville, Florida this week.

Williams, a Los Angeles, California, native who has spent the last three years of his career coaching with the Oakland Raiders, turned down the chance to sign a new contract to remain with the Raiders – “I was offered a contract to stay. I had a couple more opportunities.” – to move across the country with his family.

“I’ve had opportunities to leave for college before at a couple different powerhouse school, but I just felt like Florida was a great opportunity for me and my family right now,” he said on Thursday.

“My wife is from Fernandina Beach, Florida. She went to Florida A&M. Both her parents are Gators; they have engineering degrees from here. I just felt like it was a great opportunity. … You don’t just leave the NFL to go coach at any college; I felt like this was a special opportunity for me at this time.”

Continue Reading » Passion, family made DL coach Terrell Williams leave the NFL – and California – for Florida

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Back in Florida, assistant Randy Shannon ready to lead Gators back to championship status

More Florida Gators assistant features: Terrell Williams | Geoff Collins | Tim Skipper

The last time Randy Shannon was in Gainesville, Florida, he showed his displeasure with then-Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer for, in Shannon’s eyes, running up the score in a 26-3 win. A lightning-fast handshake at midfield became the buzz of college football, but it was just the start of a memorable season for Florida.

Six-and-a-half years later, Shannon is the one donning the orange and blue for new head coach Jim McElwain as they look to help lead the Gators back to the success the program last realized during that 2008 season, when Florida won its second national title in three years under Meyer.

Named the Gators’ associate head coach, co-coordinator (whatever that means) and linebackers coach, Shannon was able to make a jump to Florida from Arkansas by sheer happenstance. One year after Razorbacks head coach Bret Bielema hired Shannon, he began insisting that his assistants sign a no-compete clause restricting them from leaving Arkansas and going to another Southeastern Conference program. Shannon’s contract did not include that clause, so he picked up McElwain’s phone call and took advantage of a better opportunity to succeed, this one in his home state.

“It’s just another opportunity to work with some great people. I had a great time at Arkansas; we did some great things at Arkansas. It’s just another step of being with guys like Coach Mac, Coach [Doug] Nussmeier, Coach [Geoff] Collins and other guys on the staff, getting on the same page and having excitement,” Shannon explained.

“Being at Florida, there’s a ton of programs in the country but there’s only a few programs in the country like Florida. Just to be honest with you. You think about what Florida has accomplished football, basketball, track and field, baseball. If you look at it for the last couple of years, they’ve probably been in the hunt for the national championship or won it in [each of those sports in] the last six or seven years, and I’m not even counting gymnastics and other sports.

“When you have a program like that, and you have an athletic director that believes in other sports accomplishing championships like football, that excites you as a person. Sometimes as a person you don’t want to ever stay the same and get comfortable with a situation. Being at Florida, you can never get comfortable because you always have to live on the edge. You always have to have the mind that you want to win the championship, not just settle for second.”

Continue Reading » Back in Florida, assistant Randy Shannon ready to lead Gators back to championship status

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Florida Gators announce Jim McElwain’s coaching staff, Randy Shannon’s prominent role

The Florida Gators on Monday announced all but one member of head coach Jim McElwain‘s initial coaching staff.

The veteran staff includes a former head coach, ex-coordinators, an abundance of Southeastern Conference experience and coaches with renowned recruiting chops.

“As we were putting this staff together, we wanted to make sure that all the parts fit for us to be successful,” said McElwain in a statement released by the school. “This group has the knowledge, understanding and experience recruiting and coaching in the South, the state of Florida and the Southeastern Conference. They are like thinkers and don’t have self-serving agendas.

“They will all help our players be successful on the field, as students and in life and are excited about the opportunity to join The Gator Nation. This is the first step in putting together an infrastructure that will put the Gators back where we belong.”

Offensive line coach Mike Summers is the lone holdover from UF’s 2014 staff.

Below is a list of the hires along with OnlyGators.com‘s breakdown of each coach.

Continue Reading » Florida Gators announce Jim McElwain’s coaching staff, Randy Shannon’s prominent role

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Report: Florida to hire Kirk Callahan as DB coach

Though still largely unannounced, new head coach Jim McElwain‘s first Florida Gators coaching staff appears to be near-complete.

According to ESPN recruiting analyst Derek Tyson, Central Florida defensive backs coach Kirk Callahan has accepted the same position with Florida.

Callahan, a former Gators graduate assistant (2010-11), is a relatively young coach – especially compared with the rest of Florida’s hires – as the UCF job he’s held since 2012 is his first true assistant gig.

Prior to that, he played for the Knights, served as a student assistant there in 2007 and was a graduate assistant for two years at North Carolina (2008-09)

Continue Reading » Report: Florida to hire Kirk Callahan as DB coach

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