Comparing Dan Mullen’s staff to Billy Napier’s
It’s been 397 days since Billy Napier was hired as head football coach at the University of Florida. The Gators recently signed 20 high school players during early signing day, many of whom would not have inked their name with Florida without the staff Napier put together.
Several players in the 2023 class were recruited by both Dan Mullen and Napier’s staff.
Gator Country caught up with Florida’s Under Armor All Americans to compare the current staff with the previous one.
“The last staff, I didn’t really get along with very well,” defensive lineman Kelby Collins said on the difference between Mullen and Napier’s staff. “But this new staff, they have a bigger staff, this staff has more energy, you know Chase Clark and Katie and Bri Wade and all of them. They’re really doing a good job of recruiting. You know Chase really recruited me really well, along with Coach Napier and Coach Spencer. But I think just like their support staff is playing a big role in recruiting guys.”
Florida’s “army” of support staff has been a homerun for the Gators. The sheer number of coaches impressed Collins during his recruitment.
“They have a bigger staff, bigger weight room staff,” Collins said. “I got three strength / weight room, three strength and conditioning coaches for me, for the DL positions. That speaks volumes, I don’t think many colleges have that, so you know I got one for speed and strength and we got the head coach. Everybody’s really feeding off each other’s energy and there’s a lot of energy in the weight room as well which is going to help me develop.”
“The energy, that was very big,” Collins said. “The last staff, they had some energy but this staff, as soon as you walk through the door it’s like boom.”
Previous staff’s at Florida seemingly lost a crucial connection with in-state powerhouse IMG Academy. Billy Napier signed two student athletes from IMG this cycle, including offensive lineman Knijeah Harris.
“It was just a completely different feeling from the last staff to this one,” Harris said. “All of the coaches all feel like they’re connected, and they have a common goal. Much different than the last staff, there felt like there was some type of tension in the air a lot of the time. All of these coaches were texting me all the time and making me feel like a priority.”
Florida wouldn’t have signed Knijeah Harris if it wasn’t for Billy Napier.
“I was for sure not going to Florida,” Harris said on whether he would have picked Florida under Dan Mullen. “They weren’t going to be in my top group of schools or anything like that.”
Since the season ended Florida’s seen a mass exodus of players via the transfer portal, all of which were recruited by Dan Mullen. None of Napier’s 20 enrollees have entered the transfer portal.
Freshman defensive tackle Chris McClellan recently spoke out about the large number of transfers this offseason.
“No disrespect to Coach Mullen, but from what I’ve heard from the older guys, they had a lot more leniency with the last staff than they do with this staff,” McClellan said in a Twitter space. “Coach Napier does ask a lot of us, but it’s all for our best interest and I don’t think they were prepared for that.”
“It all goes back to discipline,” McClellan said.
Time will tell if Napier’s efforts pay off, but the emphasis placed on recruiting isn’t going unnoticed by the players.