Muschamp Excited About Coaching Staff

Wednesday brought the 2011 recruiting class to a close for most prospects the Gators were interested in, but it also closed out the coaching staff. Florida head coach Will Muschamp used his national signing day press conference to announce the hiring of Derek Lewis to coach tight ends, which filled out a coaching staff that causes Muschamp to struggle hiding his optimism.

"Assembling this staff has been something really exciting," Muschamp said. "We've got 161 years of coaching experience and 52 in the NFL. There are 17 BCS bowls and five Super Bowl rings. This is a staff that is very accomplished in the collegiate level and the National Football League."

The new name on the coaching staff is Lewis, who spent 2007-2010 working as the tight ends coach at Minnesota. Head coach Tim Brewster was fired, and the entire staff was let go.

Lewis was in Gainesville on Wednesday and spent the day in the Florida offices with the coaching staff.

"Many Gators will be familiar with Derek, as he was the tight end that beat Nebraska in 1996 Big 12 Championship that catapulted the Gators into the national championship game," Muschamp said. "He has helped the Gators before, and we're looking forward to him helping us again. He's very charismatic. He has recruited the state of Florida, which were criteria for what I was looking for."

Hiring Lewis meant that Brian White is being moved to running backs coach. White spent 11 years at Wisconsin where he coached Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne, first-round pick Michael Bennett, and Big Ten Freshman of the Year Anthony Davis.

Aubrey Hill was also named recruiting coordinator. Muschamp cited being happy with Hill's recruiting since being on the staff and his experience with being a Gator.

The offensive staff is closed out by Charlie Weis as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach and Frank Verducci as the offensive line coach. It's the NFL experience with those two that makes Muschamp believe they will turn those positions around.

"Charlie Weis' experience speaks for itself the development of Tom Brady, Matt Cassell going to the Pro Bowl this year, the job he does as a play caller and developing quarterbacks," Muschamp said. "Then Frank Verducci has eight years in the National Football League."

The defensive side of the football has a similar NFL feel, especially on the line. Dan Quinn coached the defensive line for the Seattle Seahawks, who made it to the second round of the playoffs. He will coach the defensive line at Florida and have the title of defensive coordinator.

Bryant Young has NFL ties, but in a different way. He is likely a Hall of Fame defensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers. He registered 89.5 career sacks in 14 seasons.

"(It's) the expertise that a Dan Quinn can bring for defensive linemen," Muschamp said about his optimism towards the defensive line. "The mentorship that a Bryant Young can bring for defensive linemen as far as he's been there, he's done that."

Travaris Robinson came from Texas Tech and will serve as the defensive backs coach, but he won't do it alone. Muschamp played safety at Georgia, and his pedigree is in the secondary. The two will team up to coach the secondary.

D.J. Durkin, one of two remaining coaches from Urban Meyer's staff, will coach linebackers. Muschamp mentioned that a main reason for Durkin being retained is his reputation as a recruiter.

"D.J. Durkin actually was a guy that I knew about before," Muschamp said. "I recruited against D.J. He actually beat me on a kid in Atlanta. Chase Thomas went to Stanford when I was at another school. I knew about D.J. back then. You don't forget those things. So I knew he was a good recruiter. He's very thorough in his job and what he does.

"I've looked at Florida this past season and at Stanford for the three seasons he was there. Special teams were outstanding. He was kind of a buzz nationally about what a job he did nationally as far as special teams are concerned. Then watching him with the players at Florida, I thought he was a very good fit. I have two guys that I really respect in this profession that both called me and said, if you don't retain him, I'm going to hire him. That was a good motivating factor too, competition."

The pedigree and optimism around the staff is tough to ignore. However, for Muschamp, the biggest hire came in one that he retained. It happened in keeping strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti on staff. He is the coach who spends most of his time in the offseason with players, and his reputation speaks for himself.

"I got a great example two weeks ago, three weeks ago," Muschamp said. "Percy Harvin walks in my office to introduce himself. In the offseason, Percy Harvin works out with Mickey. Carlos Dunlap is back finishing his degree. He's working out with Mickey. Here are two professional athletes that could be working out anywhere in the country, and they're working out with Mickey. That says to me an awful lot about his reputation and what he can do with athletes. So from a development standpoint, it starts there."

POSSIBLE POSITION CHANGES: There has been plenty of speculation around players changing positions, but Muschamp says no final decisions have been made. The team is in offseason workouts now that are being led by Marotti. The reports Muschamp has received are that things are going well.

However, he won't know anything about position changes until the pads go on for spring practice.

"Sure, there are some guys that look really exciting," Muschamp said. "We've got a good football team on this campus right now. We've got to get them pulling together in the right direction, and that's what we're trying to do, trying to get them to pull together for a common purpose right now."

Muschamp was asked about Trey Burton moving to defense and Jordan Reed moving to tight end, but he said he isn't sure yet.

"As far as position changes right now, I haven't decided, you know, concrete of what we're going to look at. Trey was a guy that's been talked about as a defensive back, but I'm not so sure he's not better suited to be on the offensive side of the ball as a fullback move and still have some sort of package for him at the quarterback position. And Jordan's a guy that we're still working through the process with him right now of where he'll end up. He's an outstanding athlete. He'll be an integral part of what we do offensively. I can tell you that."

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