Billy Napier has arrived in Gainesville and is ready to get started on rebuilding the University of Florida’s football program. The 29th coach in Gators history was emphatic in delivering his message at the introductory press conference on Sunday.
“We’re going to build the best football team in the SEC conference,” Napier said. “We’re going to build the best football program in the SEC conference. We must have a championship approach in everything that we do to accomplish this goal. Every choice, every decision, every habit that we build along the way, we’re going to begin with an ending in mind and that is to be a champion.
“I’ve seen this done, I’ve experienced it myself, and I can promise you that we will all reap the benefits from this.”
Napier knows the expectation at Florida is perennial national championship contention, and he aims to get the Gators to that level by changing the culture around the program. The players Napier recruits will have what he refers to as “elite toughness” and an “elite work ethic.” His year-round plan involves developing them both on and off the field to reach their maximum potential.
There are eight phases of Napier’s plan: foundation, identity, spring practice, discretionary period, summer regimen, training camp, in-season and post-season. The idea is to create small pockets of urgency throughout the year with specific goals for each phase. He also said that he breaks up the recruiting calendar into six phases.
It’s obvious that Napier is thoughtful in nearly everything he does. Several responses came after a short pause where it became clear that Napier was searching for words that would leave an impact.
One of the more telling replies came after the topic of recruiting came up. Napier likened the situation to getting into a game with only three minutes left on the clock. The early signing period is fast approaching, and Napier is taking a realistic approach to the task in front of him.
“We’ve got to sign around 25 players a year, and I think that there’s enough out there. I think the important part here is that we don’t get consumed with the stars. Four-star, five-star, I think it’s going to be more about evaluation.”
Napier is putting together his staff now to go out and recruit for the next few months. The next order of business is landing those left over after the first round of signings and in the transfer portal.
Although he preached patience several times to Gator Nation, Napier knows what his vision is for the organization and he plans on working tirelessly now that he has the resources to make it happen.
“We’re the University of Florida,” he said. “We’ve got a lot to sell here and I think the timing is right.”
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