TAMPA, Fla. — First-year University of Florida head coach Billy Napier made a stop in Tampa Tuesday night on his spring speaking tour.
Napier wrapped up his first spring in Gainesville with the Orange and Blue spring game. But, his plan to re-make this program is well underway.
It starts with finding players through recruiting or the transfer portal. Napier said the Tampa Bay area has been a key to past-Gators success.
“When Florida has had success, you start in your backyard,” Napier said. “Two hours up the road, this is our backyard to some degree. We have flipped over every rock up until this point. We’ll continue to evaluate players as they come about. This area has always been good to the Gators if you really do your research. There have been some great ones from this part of the country.”
Napier replaces Dan Mullen, who was fired in November after the Gators lost nine of 11 games against Power 5 opponents. Napier spent the last four seasons as head coach at the University of Louisiana and feels like he is ready for the challenge of SEC football.
“Much like the games, there will just be a lot more people watching and listening,” Napier said. “I think overall it is what it is. It's college football. I have to pinch myself occasionally and hope that we will do the job we need to do.”
Napier might not turn Florida into a national power overnight, but there should be no quarterback controversy this season with Anthony Richardson taking snaps as QB1. Napier just needs players to step up around Richardson.
“I think every team at this point of the year is very much a work in progress,” he said. “Each team across the country has its set of problems. I think our big deal is to focus on the strengths we do have and come up with solutions for the issues.”
Florida opens the season on Sept. 3 against Utah.