For Florida coach Will Muschamp and new offensive coordinator Brent Pease, it all started with a 6-foot-2, 260-pound defensive tackle named “Sweet Pea.”
In a press conference Wednesday, Muschamp recounted the first time he encountered Pease.
Muschamp was working for Valdosta State and Pease was at Northern Arizona when, in the early 2000s, Muschamp lost a prized recruit — Vincent “Sweet Pea” Burns — to Pease.
Muschamp never forgot.
“He’s an outstanding recruiter,” Muschamp said. “Right then, I knew he could recruit. But he’s a guy who’s been on my radar a long time.
“As a football coach, I faced him when we were at LSU and he was at Kentucky. I really liked, again, what he did with that football team offensively, creating ways to get his playmakers the ball. Creative in the play-calling, the tempos and different stuff, and as he has progressed, he and I have kept in pretty good contact.”
The selection of Pease will be a significant boon for recruiting, with some Florida oral commits saying they like the hire.
Oral commit Colin Thompson said he hasn’t yet spoken to Pease directly, but expected they would talk before his official visit on Jan. 20.
Regardless, the four-star tight end from Warminster, Pa., said he was excited to see what Pease would bring to Gainesville, especially after his recent experience bringing Boise State to national prominence.
“He does a great job and he did a great job there,” he said. “It’s definitely going to help (undecided recruits like Nelson Agholor and Stefon Diggs).
“I know reporters will make predictions and I see headlines like, ‘This could really help receivers,’ and things like that, so I hope they’re reading some things. I hope those two lean to Florida. They’re athlete freaks and they’re good guys.”
Agholor, a five-star athlete out of Tampa, expressed during leadup to the Under Armour All-America game last week that he would be paying close attention to the coordinator search in Gainesville.
Diggs, a five-star wide receiver from Olney, Md., is another recruit interested by Pease’s decision to join the Gators.
Because of Pease’s extensive experience coaching NFL-caliber wideouts, Diggs told ESPN.com that the Gators have jumped higher on his board as National Signing Day approaches.
Pease, who is the replacing former offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, has the potential to attract more offensive recruits like Diggs and Agholor — a good sign for Muschamp’s first full class, which currently boasts two tight ends, a lone running back and one wide receiver.
Pease, who Muschamp said has recruited in Florida’s north-central regions before, will hit the recruiting trail after his first official staff meeting Friday.
Due to Pease’s experience as a quarterbacks coach, Muschamp said he will mainly target quarterback prospects.
“That position’s different as far as evaluation and building that relationship,” Muschamp said. “But as far as his area is concerned, we’ll sit down as a staff and make sure it meshes well with our staff.
“Obviously, he’s also done a good job of developing players once they get on campus, but recruiting is all about developing good relationships with people.”
Oral commitments are nonbinding until a national letter of intent is signed on or after National Signing Day on Feb. 1.