As expected, the University of Florida announced a host of new hires for new head football coach Jim McElwain’s staff on Monday. McElwain had previously stated he was looking for coaches with solid position coaching experience and strong recruiting prowess, with experience recruiting the state of Florida. All his hires meet those parameters.
“As we were putting this staff together, we wanted to make sure that all the parts fit for us to be successful,” McElwain said in a statement released by the university. “This group has the knowledge, understanding and experience recruiting and coaching in the South, the state of Florida and the Southeastern Conference. They are like thinkers and don’t have self-serving agendas. They will all help our players be successful on the field, as students and in life and are excited about the opportunity to join The Gator Nation. This is the first step in putting together an infrastructure that will put the Gators back where we belong.”
In addition to the the two coordinators Doug Nussmeier (offense) and Geoff Collins (defense), the Gators have retained Mike Summers as the offensive line coach. He is the lone holdover from the previous staff as far as position coaches go. Chris Leak, the former Gator qb and wide receivers coach is expected to remain in an off-field capacity.
Summers coached one season under Muschamp but helped improve the Gators significantly up front going from 74th in the country in sacks allowed in 2013 (27) to 23rd last season (12). Under his tutelage, Max Garcia became an All-SEC performer at center this season, his first season at the position after moving over from guard. Summers has 35 years experience as an offensive line coach and previously coached at USC.
Randy Shannon takes over linebacker coaching duties at Florida and will be assistant head coach . The former head coach at Miami comes to the Gators from Arkansas where he spent the last two seasons as linebackers coach. Shannon is also expected to serve as the Gators recruiting coordinator.
A highly respected coach and recruiter, Shannon has tremendous ties to the fertile recruiting areas of south Florida particularly in Dade and Broward counties and should help jump start Gator recruiting in those areas moving forward.
A former starting linebacker on a national championship team at Miami, Shannon has coached a number of players who went on to play in the NFL including Ray Lewis. He inherits a young talented group of linebackers at Florida and he is considered a fantastic hire by most analysts both for his coaching skills and recruiting prowess.
While Summers is the only returning field coach, Kirk Callahan is returning to Florida to coach defensive backs after spending the last three seasons in the same capacity at Central Florida. Callahan previously coached db’s for two seasons at Florida (2010-11). He takes over for Travaris Robinson who is heading home to Auburn to reunite with Will Muschamp.
Last season, Callahan coached UCF’s first defensive All American as an FBS school with cornerback Jacoby Glenn earning 2nd team honors. Glenn was also named AAC Co-Defensive Player of the Year. Callahan was also a finalist for DB coach of the year in 2014.
He inherits a young talented defensive backfield led by Junior All American cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III. Just as importantly he is considered a great recruiter with long standing ties in the Tampa and Orlando areas. His father is Sean Callahan, the long time head coach at Armwood high school in Seffner, Florida.
Terrell Williams comes to the Gators as defensive line coach after serving in that capacity with the Oakland Raiders the last three seasons.
Williams has extensive experience coaching defensive lineman having previously coached at Texas A&M where he tutored All American Von Miller and at Purdue where he mentored several future NFL lineman. He takes over for Brad Lawing who is expected to retire from coaching.
Williams inherits a young talented defensive line led by senior Jonathan Bullard and Caleb Brantley and the hope is he will be able to secure commitments from two five star defensive lineman who have long been considered Gator leans: Byron Cowart and C.C. Jefferson.
Two coaches coming to Florida from Coach Mac’s old staff at Colorado State are Tim Skipper who will coach running backs and Mike Kent who will be the strength and conditioning coach.
Skipper was McElwain’s assistant head coach at CSU and previously coached running backs for Fresno State where he mentored NFL first round draft pick Ryan Matthews.
As with many of the other position coaches, Skipper inherits some good young talent in junior Kelvin Taylor and redshirt sophomore Adam Lane, the MVP of Florida’s Birmingham Bowl victory over East Carolina.
Mike Kent has significant experience having coached for 34 years, the last three at Colorado State, and will supervise the entire strength and conditioning program at Florida. Previously Kent has coached NFL players Jordy Nelson and Darrelle Revis. Overall, he has coached 40 players would go on to play in the NFL. He takes over from the popular Jeff Dilman.
Finally Greg Nord comes to the Gators from Western Kentucky and will coach tight ends and special teams. He previously coached tight ends and special teams under Joker Phillips at Kentucky.
Nord has significant experience having coached for 35 years and tutored a number of future NFL players. As a tight ends coach at Louisville he helped Ibn Green set the NCAA all time receptions record by a tight end.
Nord inherits probably the weakest area on the team by position and the Gators will look to utilize his experience coaching up returning players as well as upgrading talent through recruiting.
With these additions, the new Gator staff is almost complete with only a receivers coach left to hire.