Billy Napier targeting four prominent NFL assistants to fill Florida Gators coaching staff, per reports

By Adam Silverstein
December 23, 2021
Billy Napier targeting four prominent NFL assistants to fill Florida Gators coaching staff, per reports
Football

Image Credit: Tim Casey / UAA

As the Florida Gators complete their 2021 season on Thursday night in the 2021 Gasparilla Bowl, their new head coach is looking toward the future. Billy Napier’s top targets for most of his remaining on-field assistant roles were revealed across a pair of reports that corroborated the key names.

With only five assistant coaches hired at this time, Napier has spent most of the last couple of weeks filling out his off-field “army” in the recruiting and personnel departments. One of the reasons that’s been his focus, it appears, is because a number of his top targets for the five remaining assistant positions are currently in the NFL.

On Friday, Napier announced the hiring of William Peagler as Florida’s new tight ends coach. Peagler, who spent the last two seasons coaching running backs at Michigan State and served as Kenneth Walker III’s position coach, worked as the director of player personnel and quality control coordinator under Napier at Louisiana in 2018.

Let’s take a look at who Napier is reportedly targeting and what type of experience they would bring to the Gators if they are ultimately hired to complete the coaching staff.

Chris Rumph: Currently the Chicago Bears’ defensive line coach, Rumph is being targeted as outside linebackers coach, according to The Athletic‘s G. Allan Taylor. He previously spent three seasons at Florida coaching the front under Jim McElwain (2015-17) and has 18 years of college coaching experience, including one alongside Napier at Alabama. Rumph was a popular assistant with the Gators and is known as a strong recruiter.

Rob Sale: Currently the New York Giants’ offensive line coach, Sale would take a similar position, according to The Athletic and FootballScoop.com‘s John Brice. Sale would reportedly have “heavy influence” on the offense, per Brice, which could mean a co-offensive coordinator or running game coordinator role. Both note that Sale, who coached with Napier at Arizona State and Louisiana prior to leaving for the NFL, would earn $1 million or more.

Karl Scott: Currently the defensive backs coach for the Minnesota Vikings, Scott would take a co-defensive coordinator role alongside Patrick Toney while also coaching the inside linebackers, according to both reports. Scott spent the prior 13 years of his career in college leading the secondary for Alabama from 2018-20. He only coached linebackers once for two seasons at Southeastern Louisiana (2012-13) but is considered an exceptional recruiter. He is also expected to earn $1 million or more.

Eric Henderson: Currently the defensive line coach of the Los Angeles Rams, Henderson would take the same position, according to The Athletic. He been in the NFL since 2017 and with the Rams since 2019, earning a reputation for being an up-and-coming name to watch in the industry. Without extensive recruiting chops, this would be a hire focused on player development and NFL preparedness. He is also expected to earn $1 million or more.

If these hires are all made, here is how the Florida coaching staff would look almost completely assembled. Rumored targets are listed in italics within the list below.

Head coach: Billy Napier

Coordinator (?) / offensive line: Rob Sale
Asst. offensive line: Darnell Stapleton
Running backs: Jabbar Juluke
Wide receivers: Keary Colbert
Tight ends: William Peagler

Co-defensive coordinator / safeties: Patrick Toney
Co-defensive coordinator / inside linebackers: Karl Scott
Cornerbacks: Corey Raymond
Outside linebackers: Chris Rumph
Defensive line: Eric Henderson

If all of these hires are made, the Gators will have reached their allotment of on-field assistants without a full-titled offensive coordinator (unless Sale gets that role) or special teams coordinator (unless Peagler is given a dual assignment). Napier has already said he will call the offensive plays and coach the quarterbacks, but even when head coaches take those responsibilities, they still have another offensive leader on staff. Given the importance of special teams and recent issues Florida has experienced in that phase of the game, that will be a development worth following.

In addition to the on-field roles, Napier is still filling out his off-field staff. FootballScoop reports that Josh Thompson, currently the director of football operations at Auburn, is being targeted for a similar job under Napier.

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