Billy Napier and staff leading the charge for the future
When Billy Napier first stepped on campus, the program was in shambles. From parking tickets to the nutritional standards going downhill. Something went wrong with the last coaching regime, and it seemed like it was not on the upward trend. The recently appointed head coach had a daunting task in front of him, but it did not stop him from walking through the rubble and taking command of the ship that once sailed through the violent storm called the Southeastern Conference.
"Where we're at in this process is evaluating all the things that are going on relative to the development of our players. What can we do better to help them in all areas? That is the approach we have taken."
Billy Napier assessed the damage, restructured it, and set the bar. It did not come easy as he also had less than a month to recruit before Early Signing Day with only a few coaches and assistants on staff. It was a tough haul, but Billy Napier reeled in quite a few elite prospects away from Georgia, Oklahoma, Oregon, Alabama, and Notre Dame. But, it didn't come without some attrition on the roster when Mohamoud Diabate, Tyron Hopper, and Jacob Copeland hit the portal just days after Naper's arrival.
"I think that these are tough situations to walk into, and they affect a lot of people. We got a very detailed plan and approach; we applied the things that we learned in our careers. Some of the young men fit what we visualize for Florida Gator football; some decided they didn't want to be a part of that, but in general, I think each one of these is an individual situation, and we respect all of them."
The new head coach of Florida Gator Football had his blueprint and laid down the foundation. It resonated with the alumni, fans, faculty, and staff, but more importantly, the players. In the early episodes of "The Gettin Swamped Podcast," I had one question that I always made sure was answered, "What was it like meeting Billy Napier for the first time?" The answers varied from player to player, but two words stuck out to me that I got a lot from each player "Trustworthy" and "Detailed." The newly anointed head coach of the Florida Gators football team had already earned the respect of players recruited by former head coach Dan Mullen and gave them a structured layout of the program's future.
"Our program is broken into 8 phases. We try to create intensity and urgency for a small period of time; we have very specific goals and objectives for each one of these phases."
"The Journey" was introduced to the public as an eight-phase process that would test the players mentally and physically. Foundation, Identity, Spring Ball, Discretionary, The Regimen, Training Camp, In-Season, Post-Season. Indeed, an adventure the Florida Gators football team has not experienced under the previous coaching staff.
"When I got here, it was definitely new to me. Everyone knows it's something that has to be done; if you want to live this life, you got to love it." - Jordan Young.
The eight-phase process is not for the weak at heart. Through the seven months that Billy Napier and staff have been on campus, they have fully invested in their approach. More importantly, the players have also supported and bought into what the staff has implemented in the football program. The football program itself has been invigorated with a new set of standards and practices. This is not just the Gator Standard anymore, but the Billy Napier standard as we venture through phase five, "The Regimen," and into phase six, "Training Camp."
photos by FloridaGators.com, on3.com, and Sports Illustrated