By Mike McCall
GAINESVILLE--Florida's three new assistant coaches had their first meeting with the media Wednesday, and they gave some insight into how the program is being run during Urban Meyer's indefinite leave of absence and some clues as to what we'll see on the field next year. Here are some of the highlights:
Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was a Steve Addazio hire. The two worked together at Syracuse, and Austin said Addazio called him a few days before National Signing Day to gauge his interest in the job in case it came open. This means Meyer and Addazio knew George Edwards might be planning to skip town before signing day. Austin said the chance to work with Addazio again was a selling point: "He's still ugly. He still has a loud voice. But he's still one of the best men you'll ever meet. He was a big reason. When you have an opportunity to work with good people, and I know Steve's a great person, it was a no-brainer."
Linebackers coach DJ Durkin worked under Meyer at Bowling Green, and his exact role is still being determined. He will have some input on special teams though, a good sign because it means Meyer is going to lighten the load on his shoulders.
Running backs coach Stan Drayton had a rocky departure from UF two years ago, when he left Gainesville for Tennessee and complained of the way running backs are used in Meyer's system, but he said everything has been smoothed over and it's not a concern anymore. He did admit that the call from Meyer asking him to rejoin the staff came as a surprise, and he's walking into a great situation. The Gators have a stable of running backs, and Drayton had a hand in recruiting every single one of them.
Emmanuel Moody has to be the happiest man on Earth. When he chose Florida as his transfer school of choice, Stan Drayton was a big reason why. Drayton went out of his way to compliment Moody on Wednesday, something I haven't heard a UF coach do in quite a while, so this hire means good things for Moody.
Drayton also said Chris Rainey is going to split time between running back and receiver, so he's going to be filling the all-important "Percy Position."
Also, Drayton is the new recruiting coordinator, and Dade County and Orlando will be his main areas of focus.
When asked about how the uncertainty surrounding Meyer's future affected their decisions of whether or not to take jobs at UF, all three cited either the strong "structure" or "foundation" of the program. Sounds coached up to me. I wouldn't expect to get a ton of information about Meyer's situation during the next few weeks.