Meyer with Another Great Hire

Not many folks question much that Urban Meyer does these days. The Florida head coach has led the Gators to two national championships in his four years on the job and is poised to start the 2009 season at No. 1. When Brian White was announced as tight end's coach a lot of questions among Gator fans followed. A closer look shows Meyer again knew exactly what he was doing.

Meyer has a long tradition of hiring guys that he knows well or has worked with already to fill in the spots on his staff. Brian White falls in the first category and has one heck of a resume to boot. The former offensive coordinator of the Wisconsin Badgers and Syracuse Orange has mentored a Heisman Trophy winner and multiple All-Americans and future professional football players in his stints as a tight ends coach, running backs coach, and offensive coordinator.

White looks to bring some added teaching skills to the table while at Florida. He certainly understands that he will be joining a staff and a head coach that know what they are doing. White brings a lot to the table and has coached in many schemes, but he isn't in Gainesville to fix what isn't broken.

"I'm not coming here to reinvent this place, I can promise you that," White said jokingly as he met the Florida media for the first time following the Gators' announcement of their 2009 signing class. "Urban is certainly a football coach that has proven he will evolve with the times. He has with the offense if you look at where it started and where it is right now. He's always staying at the cutting edge and in front and that will continue. He is going to hire people with the ability and capacity to bring fresh ideas. Hopefully I can contribute with my past experiences."

White left a job with the University of Washington where the team just finished a dismal 0-12 season. One year removed from a spiraling Syracuse program, when White got the call from Urban Meyer to come join his staff, he didn't hang up the phone before he was on his way to Gainesville.

"I decided to come here because I am dumb but I'm not stupid," White quipped. "When Coach Meyer offered me the job I didn't ask why, what, where or how, I was on the next plane. It is pretty obvious why anyone would love to coach at this University. It's a first class institution and certainly Urban is arguably the best football coach in America right now. I have known him for a long time and his core value system is one that I am aligned with and want to be a part of. I feel very fortunate that he offered me this job and the opportunity."

There may not be a better fit to fill in this coaching vacancy left by John Hevesy, who decided to take his coaching skills to Mississippi State where he is now coaching the offensive line with former Gator offensive coordinator Dan Mullen as the head coach. White brings experience as a tight end coach, a running back coach, and coordinators of offensive schemes and special teams. He will be asked to coach the tight ends and H-Backs at Florida, currently manned by four players.

Up first for White is to get to know and coach up All-American tight end candidate Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez will be entering his junior season at Florida and played an integral part in the championship run for the Gators in 2008. White understands the young man's talent, he looks to hone it and make him even better in 2009.

"I have spent a lot of time with him since I have been hired," White said. "He is obviously a very talented and intelligent young man and I am very excited to work with him.

"I have known a lot about him. I was here for spring practice this past spring for three days and was very impressed. He is extremely talented. When I watch film of him, he is a very smart football player and has great awareness.

"There is always room for improvement and I am looking forward to helping him reach his vast genetic ceiling, which is what a coach is supposed to do. I want to give him some more tools in his tool box and demand that he improves consistently. I am really excited with the opportunity to be able to impact his development."

If there is a place to start for Hernandez, White knows it is the area of which he is least familiar. In his high school days Hernandez was never asked to block at the line of scrimmage, being a split out receiver. That continued for the most part since he's been at Florida, but he has gradually had to learn to increase his skill at blocking at or near the line of scrimmage.

"I think most importantly it's consistency issues along the line of scrimmage," White said about areas he can help Hernandez the most. "Consistency with blocking would be the first area where he can vastly improve. He's so athletic, he should dominate on the line of scrimmage and off the line of scrimmage. He has every tool that you need to be as good a tight end as there is in the country and we are going to challenge him to be the best tight end in the country this year."

With all his background coaching the tight end in different ways, White understands the key aspect of the position when it comes to having that player on the field.

"The tight end is a hybrid position," he said. "He has to be able to (block and catch) and do both things well. The more versatility you have at the position, the more things you can do."

With such a short time on the job, White has had less time with his other student athletes, but he has met with each. True freshman tight end Desmond Parks arrived on campus in January and has been impressive according to some sources, White likes his young player and looks forward to teaching him.

"I met Desmond and I really like where he's at," White said. "I like the ability to develop a very young and athletic kid."

Among White's other duties will be to train the H-back position as well. The full back in this offense has to be versatile as well and White has a background of coaching dynamic big backs like Ron Dayne during his Heisman Trophy winning year along with Michael Bennett, a first round draft choice from Wisconsin under White's tutelage. White will have no experience to help him with freshman T.J. Pridemore and sophomore Steven Wilks manning the H-back or fullback position.

"I am going to be working with the fullbacks T.J. Pridemore and Steven Wilks," White said. "We will move them around and do some things with them. I have met them and they both seem like very wonderful young men, T.J. is a very physical young man and I know he has a tremendous pedigree with a father that played in the NFL for eight years. Steven Wilks comes from Lakeland and we know what a great program that is. I am just excited to coach them."

White's father was a football coach and his mother a teacher. He played football and went to school at Harvard, not your normal football factory. Still, he has a background as rich as anyone's enough to make a difference on a team that really may not even need a difference maker on the staff. His days at Harvard went a long way in making him who he is.

"I really enjoyed my experience and was around a lot of wonderful people," he said of his time at Harvard. "What I found out is that academics and athletics can be balanced. The importance of football is just important to a Harvard football player as to a Florida football player. The talent isn't the same, but the importance is. You certainly want to do as well as you can in everything you can compete in, whether it is academics, athletics, or anything you compete in."

And so his path as a coach has led him to Gainesville. It is a path that he is all smiles about and he can't wait to really get started. Far from the one he left, which he said was full of great people, but under very trying times.

"It's beautiful," he said of Gainesville. "(There are) wonderful people, great support, tremendous enthusiasm for the University of Florida athletics. This community is a special place.

"The difference is the way people carry themselves. Athletes walk away with a lot of confidence and there are a lot of smiles. It's nice to be around. I have been a part of that atmosphere a lot in the past, but the last three years it has not been like that. I am excited to be a part of it."

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