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Sunday, May 22, 2022

Napier lays out Florida football’s new foundation

The newly-hired head coach made his intentions clear in Friday’s press conference

<p>New Florida football coach Billy Napier greets fans during his first day on the job Sunday in Gainesville. Napier discussed his vision for the program during his first address to the media Friday afternoon.</p>

New Florida football coach Billy Napier greets fans during his first day on the job Sunday in Gainesville. Napier discussed his vision for the program during his first address to the media Friday afternoon.

Billy Napier has been a busy man since December 5th. 

When he sat down for his introductory press conference as the new head coach of the Florida Gators, he promised to build a program known for its hard work and discipline.

Since then, Napier has hired 37 new staff members and landed the signatures of top recruits Kamari Wilson, Devin Moore and Shemar James. He also persuaded the transfer of Louisiana-Lafayette protege Montrell Johnson.

As Napier returned to the podium Friday for his first media address of the new year, he established his plan to make that promise a reality. 

“I think it’s important that you define self-discipline for the players,” Napier declared in his opening statement. “We want to define attention to detail. We want to establish expectations as a new group.”

Napier also stressed the crucial concept of having consistent goals across the program and acting upon them, stating “vision without action is a dream.”

Since taking the reins from interim head coach Greg Knox after UF’s 29-17 defeat against Central Florida in the Gasparilla Bowl, Napier has focused on evaluating the roster he’s inheriting. 

“I think that we've had kind of a 13 day approach here.” Napier said. “All [position coaches] have been meeting with the players, really taking kind of an IDP approach, an individualized development plan.”

On the subject of inheritance, Napier expressed his excitement with construction of the new athletic facility. Scheduled for completion in Spring 2022, Napier believes the Gators have an opportunity to elevate themselves above the rest. 

The former Sun Belt Conference coach of the year also acknowledged how maximizing his current roster will play a big role in 2022’s potential success.

“We put the players to an evaluation workout, we made profile tapes and every player that was returning on the team,” Napier said. “I think we’re able to wrap our heads around the current team and where we’re at.”

Napier added the transfer portal will be used to fill most of the gaps in the current roster this season, and hinted that more transfers may be on the way in “the next 8-10 days or so.”

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The press conference then moved on to the recruiting side of the approach, looking ahead to what Napier called Florida’s “first big weekend” on the recruiting trail under the new regime. He recognized the importance of creating an attractive destination for recruits.

“We're selling our product, right?” Napier said. “We're presenting our product. We're creating unique experiences for the player, their families. I think in recruiting it's important that you get really individualized, because no situation is the same, right? Some parts of the decision are more important to a certain family.”

Napier has hired a significant number of recruiting staff, and credited their role to decision making, saying “It's a big part of what we do and it's certainly for me, to give them ownership, to let them do their job and to give feedback as you go. That's the approach we take.”

Florida will be able to showcase its new coach’s approach as National Signing Day and Spring ball draw near. 

“I think the approach that we will take here is a very objective evaluation process and a very team approach to the recruitment process.” 

Contact Jackson Castellano at jcastellano@alligator.org. Find him on Twitter @jaxacastellano.

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