Florida football adds Super Bowl champion among two key hires as Billy Napier’s ‘army’ grows

By Adam Silverstein
December 10, 2021
Florida football adds Super Bowl champion among two key hires as Billy Napier’s ‘army’ grows

Image Credit: UAA / Chris Kim

New head coach Billy Napier is not wasting any time building his Florida Gators coaching staff with the early signing period around the corner. Florida on Friday announced a key on-field hire, while the Gators also reportedly brought in a particularly notable name to serve in the recruiting department.

Darnell Stapleton, a Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers who spent the 2021 season coaching the offensive line at Louisiana under Napier, will transition to the same role at Florida. Stapleton’s most recent prior coaching stops were at Sam Houston State (2017-20) and Bucknell (2014-17).

Stapleton will be one of two Gators offensive line coaches; he will serve as the “assistant” (No. 2 coach) at the position. Napier explained during his introductory press conference that he is putting a premium on play at the line of scrimmage and believes the offensive line should have two coaches, just like the secondary.

“We’re one of the only teams in the entire country [at Louisiana] to have two offensive line coaches. We’ll have an offensive line coach and an assistant offensive line coach,” he said. “We will construct our staff on both sides of the ball and put a premium on the line of scrimmage — the offensive line, the defensive line. …

“And certainly, when you’re coaching offensive line, you’ve got to coach five players. Nobody’s got one coach coaching five DBs. I don’t know why you wouldn’t have two guys coaching the offensive line. … We’ll have the advantage of having two offensive line coaches.”

Though the primary offensive line coach has not yet been hired, it’s being thrown around that Napier is targeting New York Giants’ assistant Rob Sale for the role. Sale, a former offensive lineman at LSU, was Napier’s co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Louisiana (2018-20) with notable prior experience at Arizona State (2017), Louisiana-Monroe (2016) and Georgia (2015). It is not certain that Sale is the target or will be the eventual hire, but if he is, he won’t be available until the Giants’ season ends on Jan. 9.

Napier has also hired Jamar Chaney from Mississippi State to serve as a defensive analyst focusing on the linebacking position. Chaney, a Florida native who was on the Gators staff as assistant director of player personnel in 2019, was well-liked throughout the program. It was a head-scratcher to many when former head coach Dan Mullen allowed him to be plucked away by MSU where Chaney played as a linebacker.

Chaney is known as a tremendous on-campus recruiter with an attractive personality who will help the Gators’ efforts in rebuilding that department. Florida made Chaney’s hire official on Sunday.

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