After two days as Florida’s head coach, Dan Mullen is already sorting out which assistants will join him on the sidelines in 2018.
He started by ditching a few high-profile leftovers from Jim McElwain’s tenure. Florida reportedly fired former interim head coach Randy Shannon, offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, defensive line coach Robb Akey, defensive backs coach Corey Bell, receivers coach Kerry Dixon II and special teams coordinator Greg Nord on Tuesday, according to SEC Country.
About 100 administrators, athletic staff and media members stood 30 feet from three encased …
Running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider, defensive coordinator Chris Rumph, offensive line coach Brad Davis and linebackers coach Tim Skipper are reportedly still on staff and are on the road recruiting.
One coach not mentioned in the report is director of strength and conditioning Mike Kent, who some rumored would be one of the first assistants to go.
After Mullen was introduced as Florida’s head coach on Monday, athletic director Scott Stricklin, who referenced strength and conditioning in his reasoning of why he hired Mullen, was asked directly if conditioning has been an issue for the Gators.
“I think any successful program has a really strong strength and conditioning program that builds accountability,” he said, “and I think programs that aren’t as successful usually are lacking in that area.”
Mullen emphasized conditioning in his remarks, too. He said he told players to rest up in December, because when they come back, the strength program is going to be “something they have never even experienced in their life.”
And as former coaches pour out, new ones are filing in.
Mullen hired two of his assistants from Mississippi State, Billy Gonzales and John Hevesy, both of whom also coached when Mullen served as Florida’s offensive coordinator from 2005 to 2008.
The announcement didn’t specify what role the duo will have, but at MSU, the two served as co-offensive coordinators. Gonzales directed the passing game and coached receivers, while Hevesy managed the run game and coached the offensive line.
Gonzales also served as Florida’s recruiting coordinator from 2008 to 2009, leading the effort to land future NFL players like Janoris Jenkins, Jeff Demps, Andre Debose and Jon Bostic.
Mullen dives into recruiting
In his first news conference as Florida’s head coach, Mullen vowed to prioritize recruiting over the next few weeks, with the early signing period approaching from Dec. 20 to Dec. 22.
Mullen has begun to honor that promise. According to a report from SEC Country, he visited the nation’s No. 1 recruit on Tuesday, Georgia commit Justin Fields. Fields is a five-star, dual-threat quarterback in the class of 2018. Florida already has a commitment from four-star passer Matt Corral in the same class, but when coaches change, situations change.
The Gators understand that better than most, having lost two 2018 recruits in the past week, four-star receiver Jacob Copeland and three-star defensive end Taylor Upshaw, as well as two 2019 recruits, four-star safety Jaleel McRae and four-star receiver Maurice Goolsby.
But Mullen believes he can convince more elite players that he’s going to lead Florida out of its recent struggles.
“When I was here 10 years ago,” he said, “we were blessed to have some truly spectacular players. I mean, it’s fun calling plays when Tim Tebow is your quarterback and he’s throwing the ball out to a Percy Harvin or a Louis Murphy or a Bubba Caldwell.
“We have to do a great job recruiting to get that level of player back here to lead us back to championships.”
You can follow Ethan Bauer on Twitter @ebaueri, and contact him at [email protected].