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Saturday, October 01, 2022

Napier lays out foundation for Gators season at SEC Media Days

The first-year head coach addressed his outlook and goals for Florida’s 2022 season

<p>Florida Football Coach Billy Napier arrives with his family at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for his first day on the job on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021. </p><p></p>

Florida Football Coach Billy Napier arrives with his family at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for his first day on the job on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021.

First-year Gators’ head coach Billy Napier stepped up to the microphone dressed in his new? uniform: a blue suit and orange tie. He placed his opening address on the podium before him. 

After four seasons at Louisiana-Lafayette, where he only lost five games, Napier was brought up to the big leagues.

Napier stood before conference-wide media for the first time at the annual Southeastern Conference Media Days in Atlanta Wednesday. His half hour in front of SEC media marked his first impression on a nationwide audience. 

Napier spoke extensively about the new environment he is cultivating at Florida. The beginning of his opening statement resembled a recruiting pitch. Napier highlighted UF’s academics and support for athletics.

“We’re seven and a half months into this journey,” Napier said. “We’re thankful for their belief in our plan and the resources they’ve provided for this great challenge.” 

Napier did more than brag about his university. He addressed a variety of topics including off-season training, his approach to coaching and the state of his team and the SEC as a whole.

Napier acknowledged his excitement to return to the SEC, calling it “the league.” He worked as a wide receivers coach under Alabama head coach Nick Saban from 2013-2016. 

The rookie SEC coach was honest about the process of bringing a new staff to a relatively inexperienced team. The Gators are led by redshirt sophomore quarterback Anthony Richardson and an expansive coaching staff rebuilt from the ground up. 

Napier praised those on staff and in the locker room. He seemed hopeful about the steps he wants to take in year one, stressing the importance of giving each player the best opportunities possible. Napier spoke on the work necessary to redirect a Gators team left aimless after a deflating final season under former head coach Dan Mullen

“We’re consumed with Florida right now,” Napier said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, and it’s critical that we stay on task and focus on what we can do to get the Gators better each and every day.”

Through his words, Napier solidified Florida’s blueprint for year one. SEC Media Days aren’t a direct measure of on-field potential, but Napier seems confident he and his staff are taking the right approach.

The Gators’ season begins when the Utah Utes travel to Gainesville Sept. 3. The game is set for 7 p.m on ESPN. 

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

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Jackson Castellano

Jackson Castellano is a second-year sports journalism student and the assistant sports editor at the Alligator. In the past, he has covered UF basketball and baseball for the Alligator and was an associate editor at ClutchPoints.


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