Florida coach Billy Napier announces four key staff hires, including co-defensive coordinator

By Adam Silverstein
December 6, 2021
Florida coach Billy Napier announces four key staff hires, including co-defensive coordinator
Football

Image Credit: GatorsFB / Twitter

Head coach Billy Napier formally joined the Florida Gators on Sunday as he was introduced to Gator Nation with a lengthy press conference that covered nearly every aspect of what can be expected as he takes over the program. The first step toward those goals began Monday as Napier started filling out his coaching staff.

Napier started out by bringing over four key names from his Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns staff, including three assistant coaches.

The most notable hire is Patrick Toney, who will serve as co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach. Toney was part of Napier’s initial staff at Louisiana where he served as a position coach until being promoted to defensive boss over the last two seasons. ULL improved substantially on defense in each of his seasons leading the unit, moving to 31st and then 11th nationally in scoring defense and to 33rd and then 29th nationally in total defense.

It is expected that Florida’s other co-coordinator will be a more notable national name. Toney is considered a rising star in the coaching industry and may be the defensive playcaller.

Though there was momentum to keep Nick Savage in charge of the Gators’ training program, Napier instead decided to bring Mark Hocke with him from Louisiana as the director of football strength and conditioning. An original member of Napier’s staff, Hocke has extensive Power Five experience having worked at Alabama (2011-14), Georgia (2015), Florida State (2016) and Texas A&M (2017). He led the Bulldogs during that 2015 season, making 2022 his second in charge of a Power Five program.

Jabbar Juluke also joins from ULL as the running backs coach. Juluke was another original member of Napier’s staff who is considered one of the best at his position nationally. He is a strong recruiter in the Louisiana and Texas areas and also an exceptional talent developer having coached names like Leonard Fournette, Derrius Guice and Elijah Mitchell. Juluke coached at LSU in 2016 and Texas Tech in 2017 before linking up with ULL.

Napier announced Sunday that he will be the offensive play caller and coach quarterbacks with an analyst assisting him. That analyst was also named Monday with Ryan O’Hara joining the program to remain in the role he’s held alongside Napier since 2018. O’Hara has no other FBS experience, but his expertise helped Cajuns QB Levi Lewis throw for 5,324 yards and 45 touchdowns over the last two seasons.

It’s believed that Napier will retain at least one current assistant coach with the leader in the clubhouse being interim defensive coordinator Christian Robinson. The Gators will also need an offensive coordinator, co-defensive coordinator and a number of position coaches to fill out the staff.

Napier said Sunday that two assistants each will be assigned to the offensive line and secondary. He also stressed patience when it came to building the staff, suggesting there may be a couple of targets not yet available to join Florida.

In other news, Vernell Brown Jr. announced Monday that Napier has retained him as the director of football student-athlete development, a role in which Brown also serves as a liaison to NFL teams. Brown, a former Gators defensive back, has served in the role since 2018.

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