Two seasons ago, the Florida Gators finished the 2017 season with a 4-7 record and missed a bowl game. Their head coach, Jim McElwain, was fired in the middle of the season and the rest of the coaching staff ending up leaving as well. Additionally, in late November, the Florida Gators hired Mississippi State head coach, Dan Mullen, to become their head coach. Mullen made some very necessary and drastic changes to the coaching staff. In 2018, the Florida Gators finished 10-4 with a Peach Bowl victory against Michigan. A big part of Florida’s improvement must be credited to the new coaching staff. Most of the 2018 coaching staff are still at Florida and they have added some key recruiters to their staff. Today, we look at the top five coaches on Florida’s staff.
1. Nick Savage
Now, if you asked the Florida fan base which coach they thought played the biggest role for the improvement in 2018 besides Mullen, the majority would say that it was Savage. Savage, Florida’s strength and conditioning coach, did a tremendous job with his players. One of the reasons Florida struggled so badly in 2017 was because of the injuries. Florida couldn’t stay healthy and many people blamed the strength and conditioning coach for not getting his players in football shape. Mullen hired Coach Savage from Mississippi State and Savage did some really nice work in a short amount of time. The Gators were able to stay healthy for most of the season and still played at a high level in the second half of games. Savage is one of the best strength and conditioning coaches in the country and will have the Gators physically prepared for the 2019 season.
Out of all the coaches Mullen brought to Florida, Robinson was the youngest and the final edition to his staff. Robinson became the linebacker coach at Florida thanks to Florida’s defensive coordinator Todd Grantham speaking highly of the coach. Before he arrived at Florida, Robinson was a graduate assistant at Mississippi State, Georgia and Ole Miss. Robinson has been a great addition to the coaching staff and many people didn’t know what to expect from him. Robinson was able to coach up his players and get the most of his linebackers in the 2018 season. The linebacker position was a strong unit for the Gators as both Vosean Joseph and David Reese led Florida in tackles. However, Robinson was also terrific on the recruiting trail as he signed four linebackers in the 2019 recruiting class. He signed four-stars Tyron Hopper, Mohamoud Diabate, Diwun Black, and three-star Jesiah Pierre.
3. Todd Grantham
Continuing with the top five coaches on Florida’s staff, we look at the defensive side of the ball. In 2017, the Gators defense ranked 69th in the country with Randy Shannon as their defensive coordinator. In 2018, Grantham was hired to be Florida’s defensive coordinator and their total defense ranking went from 69 to 20. The Gators defense allowed 20 points per game and also averaged 1.9 turnovers per game. Grantham quickly transformed the defense to one of the most aggressive and feared defenses in the country. In addition, Florida’s defense also had 37 sacks on the season which was good enough to finish in the top 20 nationally. Florida almost lost their defensive coordinator as the Cincinnati Bengals interviewed him to be their defensive coordinator. Grantham decided to stay at Florida and also got a raise after the 2018 season.
4. John Hevesy
Hevesy is the Florida offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator. Hevesy was one of the first hires Mullen made once he was named Florida’s head coach. He was at Florida from 2005-2008 as the tight end and assistant offensive line coach. Once Mullen left Florida to be the head coach at Mississippi State, Hevesy followed him and became the offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator.
Hevesy and Mullen reunited once again as he came back to Florida and coached the same roles he did at Mississippi State. Hevesy did a terrific job in 2018 as he transformed Florida’s offensive line to one of the best offensive lines in the country. Florida’s offensive line allowed 18 sacks last season, which ranked 20th in the country. Florida will be featuring a brand new offensive line in 2019 with four new starters but if there’s a coach that can get them ready, it’s Hevesy.
Now, Florida’s starting quarterback, Feleipe Franks, was one of the most improved quarterbacks in the 2018 season. A lot of people praise Mullen for Franks’ progress since he has a very good history with quarterbacks. Another coach that played a crucial role in the development of Feleipe Franks was Johnson. The current quarterbacks’ coach and former Utah quarterback started his coaching career at Utah. Mullen hired Johnson to be the quarterback coach as he was the offensive coordinator at Houston. In just one season, Johnson improved Franks’ ability to read defenses and to roll through his progressions. Franks’ stats improved dramatically from 2017 to 2018. Franks is ready to show the college football world that he isn’t the same quarterback that he was in 2017 and Johnson will be a huge reason for that.