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Summers' Time: UF's new OL coach tasked with turning around beleaguered unit

GAINESVILLE -- Florida offensive line coach Mike Summers -- a 34-year coaching veteran -- has a bio that reads a lot like a presidential candidate's tour schedule. 

The 57-year-old career assistant has coached at Southern California, Louisville, Arkansas, Ohio, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Northern Illinois, Texas A&M, The University of the South and the Atlanta Falcons, but his long journey has finally brought him to the Sunshine State and a job he's eyed his whole career. 

“There are jobs out there when you start out in coaching and look at and think this is where I’d love to be someday," Summers said. "Florida has always been that for me. I grew up in Kentucky, grew up in SEC country and have always looked at Florida from the outside wishing I could be on the correct sideline. I’ve been in this stadium several times on the wrong sideline and I’m very thankful to be coming out of this locker room and be a part of this program. The reputation of this program is strong. I've been doing it long enough to know that at every program has ebbs and flows to it, but this foundation and the reputation of this program will always been strong. The things that I've seen in a short time that I've been here makes me encouraged that we're going to get right back to that point."

(Courtesy gatorcountry.com)

Summers came to Florida despite the tumultuous landscape surrounding the program -- especially the offense's consistent failures -- and is tasked with turning around a porous offensive line that allowed a conference-high 66 sacks the past two seasons.   

Florida also struggled to run the ball last season, averaging just 3.63 yards per carry. 

But Summers -- a well-regarded teacher and tactician -- insists he's unconcerned about the offensive line's past failures and only wants his players to eye the future. 

"I've been fortunate to have been doing this long enough that I might be able to call it a career here in another couple of years, so hopefully the things that I bring to the table will make a difference," he said. "How quickly that happens? We'll just have to wait and see, but we're going to stay hard at it. The one thing that I know is that the players I've met on this football team are hungry to be successful. And they believe in Coach Muschamp. They believe in this program. And all of those feelings have come through to me just in the short time that I've been here. I'm encouraged that when we start into the offseason program that they've got that hunger that's burning to get themselves back to where they want to be."

Florida's newest offensive line coach -- hired Jan. 6 from USC -- refused to discuss specific personnel while still evaluating tape and meeting the players, but Summers was adamant the line would be "the foundation for our football team."

"They ought to be the example of how we want to play, the example of how we want to finish, the example of how to do things the right way. So that's the standard of excellence that's going to be set for them to rise up to. I think the older I get the less tolerant I am. I don't lower my standards to get to them. They have to come up to the standards that I set, and those standards are going to be real high." 

Summers spoke extensively about building relationships with his players -- something he highlighted as critical to a team’s success. 

He's excited about the latest -- and possibly final -- challenge of his career.

"Coach [Kurt] Roper has come in, and he has an energy and a passion with what he does. We’ve been able to cross paths in the last seven or eight years in different places. We even go back further than that. His energy, Coach [Joker] Phillips’ experience, all of us coming together, I feel so good about this offensive staff right now and all of us being able to get in there and lock arms and present a united front to the offensive players on this team," Summers said. "They’re going to know that they’ve been coached and they’re going to be coached by a group of guys that really cares about them, cares about the University of Florida.”

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton


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