Florida football news: Gators lose defensive assistant to Michigan, add three graduate transfers

By Adam Silverstein
January 15, 2021
Florida football news: Gators lose defensive assistant to Michigan, add three graduate transfers
Football

Image Credit: UAA

Just as it looked like head coach Dan Mullen was set to fill all the vacancies on his coaching staff, another opened Friday. Linebackers coach Christian Robinson has decided to leave the Florida Gators for Michigan, according to FootballScoop.

It is not yet known what role Robinson, whose first three years as an on-field assistant were spent at Florida under Mullen, will take at Michigan nor why he has decided to leave the Gators. However, his former linebackers coach at Georgia is Michigan’s defensive coordinator. Robinson was the youngest coach on staff and a solid recruiter who is seen as an up-and-comer in the industry.

Prior to joining Florida, Robinson was a graduate assistant at his alma mater of Georgia (2013-14), Ole Miss (2015-16) and Mississippi State under Mullen in 2017.

Mullen now must find a new linebackers coach and one additional assistant for the secondary. Mullen fired assistants Torrian Gray and Ron English on Jan. 1 and has since hired Wesley McGriff for one of those roles.

It was believed that the Gators were seeking a co-defensive coordinator to work alongside embattled defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, but that may no longer be the case.

Former Florida assistant Travaris Robinson was believed to be a top candidate but ultimately joined the Miami staff instead. Texas defensive coordinator Chris Ash, who is not expected to remain with the Longhorns, was concerned next up after Robinson, but that courting has apparently stalled.

Longtime Gators assistant Charlie Strong is expected to join ex-Florida head coach Urban Meyer as a linebackers coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars, according to Stadium’s Brett McMurphy. This as Strong was considered one of the top candidates to return to the Gators and work as a position coach or co-defensive coordinator alongside Grantham, a source told OnlyGators.com. FootballScoop first reported Strong’s expected path. OnlyGators.com cannot confirm whether Strong has been hired by the Jaguars.

Graduate transfer talent incoming

Mississippi State kicker Jace Christmann announced Friday that he will transfer to Florida. Unranked out of high school, Christmann started for three seasons with the Bulldogs, making 32 of 40 field goals but just 11 of 17 from 40+ yards. He only saw action kicking extra points in his senior season, booting 127 of 128 total for his career. Christmann was beaten out by Brandon Ruiz for the starting job this past season and will be a graduate transfer linking up with Mullen for the second time in his collegiate career. He will be eligible immediately as a replacement for junior Evan McPherson, who opted to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft.

“I’m excited to announce I will be transferring to the University of Florida to play my final season of college football after graduating in the spring,” Christmann wrote. “… To Coach Mullen and his staff, we started together, let’s finish together. Time to get to work! #GoGators”

Auburn defensive tackle Daquan Newkirk (6-foot-3, 317 pounds) has decided to transfer to Florida. Newkirk, a former four-star prospect and the No. 15 JUCO prospect in the Class of 2018, started 10 games for the Tigers this season. The Orlando, Florida, native will join the program as a graduate transfer and be eligible immediately for his final collegiate campaign. “It’s an honor to be coming home,” Newkirk wrote. “Let’s get to work [Gators]!!!”

Earlier this month, Penn State defensive tackle Antonio Shelton (6-foot-2, 280 pounds) announced he would transfer to Florida. A three-star prospect in the Class of 2016, Shelton is also a graduate transfer who will be immediately eligible for the Gators. Shelton has started 19 games over the last two seasons but only seven in 2020. He committed to Florida over interest from other big-time programs, including Florida State and Michigan.

These additions are especially important for Florida, which will lose Kyree Campbell and Tedarrell Slaton from the interior of its defensive line this offseason.

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