Florida Gators coaching staff: Set to add another assistant from Mississippi State

By Adam Silverstein
December 3, 2017
Florida Gators coaching staff: Set to add another assistant from Mississippi State

Image Credit: ESPN Images

Florida Gators head football coach Dan Mullen has said previously that his entire staff will not be assembled ahead of the early signing period (which begins on Dec. 20) and may not all be in place until the new year. Now we know at least one reason why.

As has been expected, Mississippi State Bulldogs special teams coordinator and running backs coach Greg Knox will reportedly join Florida’s staff, according to FootballScoop. Knox is presently Mississippi State’s interim coach and will lead MSU into the TaxSlayer Bowl against Louisville on Dec. 30.

Many Gators fans have wanted Ja’Juan Seider to stay on as running backs coach considering his tremendous development at the position this season and overall recruiting prowess. Adding Knox certainly complicates that as he has held that job under Mullen since 2009, taking over special teams duties in 2014. Knox was previously a wide receivers coach at three stops including Ole Miss and Auburn, though that position is expected to be led by co-offensive coordinator Billy Gonzales. Knox served as recruiting coordinator for those SEC programs and also coached special teams at Stephen F. Austin in the 1990s.

Florida’s special teams took a massive nosedive under Jim McElwain, who hired Greg Nord to lead that unit while coaching tight ends. Special teams has long been a sense of pride for the Gators, which ended an NCAA-record 12-year streak of returning at least one kickoff or punt for a touchdown this season.

Knox could, theoretically, coach special teams only and not concentrate on running backs as there is a 10th NCAA assistant spot available starting this season. However, Knox’s proficiency appears to be in offensive coaching.

Joining Knox on staff are Gonzales and co-offensive coordinator John Hevesy, whose position unit has not been specified at this time. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham was added on Wednesday night.

With those four now in the fold and four of McElwain’s assistants still on staff (six have been dismissed), let’s take a look at where Florida stands with three weeks until the early signing period.

Position assignments below are assumed based on previous roles and experience.

Head coach: Dan Mullen
Co-offensive coordinator/passing game/WR: Billy Gonzales
Co-offensive coordinator/running game/OL or TE: John Hevesy^
Defensive coordinator/LB: Todd Grantham*
Special teams coordinator: Greg Knox

Quarterbacks coach: TBD
Running backs coach: Ja’Juan Seider~ or Greg Knox
Offensive line coach: Brad Davis^ or John Hevesy
Tight ends coach: TBD or John Hevesy
Defensive line coach: Chris Rumph
Linebackers coach: Tim Skipper* or Todd Grantham
Secondary coach: TBD

^ Hevesy coached offensive line at MSU but previously coached tight ends in his prior tenure at Florida. Mullen will have to decide whether he wants to keep Davis or hire a tight ends coach.
* Grantham coached linebackers at MSU. Mullen will have to decide whether he wants to keep Grantham coaching the position, keep Skipper (either at linebackers or secondary) or hire a new coach.
~ Knox coached running backs at MSU, but Seider is one of UF’s best current assistants. He is a former quarterback but has only coached running backs in his professional career.

There will be 10 on-field assistant coaching spots for the first time per amended NCAA rules. If Mullen keeps his staff as it stands now, he would have eight of those 10 spots filled with obvious holes at quarterbacks and secondary. He could also split up duties along the offensive line, defensive line and/or secondary. It should be noted that none of the McElwain retention appear on Mullen’s coaching staff list on the UF website.

It is expected that Mississippi State strength and conditioning coach Nick Savage, a former assistant under ex-Florida strength coach Mickey Marotti, will follow Mullen to the Gators. Lee Begley has joined the program out of MSU as director of recruiting operations. OnlyGators.com learned that Mullen has decided to replace assistant athletic director of football operations George Wynn, who has been with the team since Will Muschamp took over. Director of player development Kevin Barbay announced that he was not longer with the Gators.

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