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Gators hire special teams coach, fill administrative vacancy

GAINESVILLE -- The Gator Nation is impatiently wishing for a shiny new offensive coordinator this holiday season, but Christmas is still five days away.

Instead, UF officially announced the hiring of Coleman Hutzler, formally at New Mexico, as its new special teams coordinator -- a position not known to be vacant until late Thursday evening.

Jeff Choate, UF’s outside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator in 2013, resigned to “pursue other coaching opportunities" according to a release by the school. 

“Coleman is a young coach with a very bright future,” coach Will Muschamp said in a statement. “He has a great work ethic and obviously is very familiar with our special teams’ schemes. It will be a seamless transition for our players.”

Hutzler, just 29, is a familiar face in Gainesville, serving on UF’s staff from 2010-11 as a defensive and special teams assistant alongside current defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin.

Durkin and Hutzler, who has been on the Lobos staff since 2012, also worked together at Stanford (2007-2009) under coach Jim Harbaugh.

“I’m excited to be returning to Gainesville and be a part of the Gator family again,” Hutzler said in a news release. “I enjoyed my time there and have the utmost respect for Coach Muschamp and the administrative team in place at Florida. I understand the value placed on special teams under Coach Muschamp, and look forward to getting to work.”

Hutzler piloted a strong special teams group in 2013, as New Mexico ranked in the top 25 nationally in net punting (No. 25), punt-return defense (No. 19) and kickoff returns (No. 24). The Lobos also had the country’s only player (sophomore Carlos Wiggins) to return three kickoffs for touchdowns.

UF’s special teams struggled under Choate last season, marred by inconsistencies in the kicking game.

Kyle Christy went from All-American punter to the pine, while the Gators missed 10 field goals -- second most nationally. Although UF’s coverage units were strong, the Gators blocked just a single kick all season after blocking at least four kicks every year since 2010.

Choate, who was scheduled to make $290,000 in the final year of his contract, will move onto his fifth job in 24 months after coming to UF on the strong recommendation by former offensive coordinator Brent Pease.

According to FootballScoop.com, he is reportedly looking for a job at Washington under new Huskies coach Chris Peterson, where Pease recently signed on to coach wide receivers.

Choate worked under Peterson at Boise State from 2006-11.

ANOTHER VACANCY FILLED

Muschamp also announced the hiring of Drew Hughes as Florida’s director of player personnel.

The administrative position has been vacant since Jon Haskins resigned during the 2013 season.

Hughes held the same title at North Carolina State in 2012.

“Drew will be a great asset to our program,” Muschamp said. “He is extremely organized, and based on his experience he has a very good understanding of how we operate and should fit right in.”

Hughes joined NC State one year after serving as Central Florida’s director of player personnel. He also spent five seasons at Alabama (2007-11) working in the recruiting office under Ed Marynowitz, now the assistant director of pro scouting for the Philadelphia Eagles.

“I’m very excited to have the opportunity to work for Coach Muschamp and the University of Florida,” Hughes said. “It will be great to get back to the state of Florida and the SEC – the best conference in the nation. I’m very much looking forward to helping the Florida coaching staff attract student athletes who will be champions both on and off the field.”

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

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