Florida Gators: Coleman Hutzler

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- New offensive coordinator Kurt Roper has the tall task of reviving Florida's offense, and he'll be well compensated for the effort.

Roper, who was hired by UF in January after leaving the same job at Duke, will make $590,000 a year for three years, plus a $100,000 signing bonus and a longevity incentive of $100,000 if he's still with the Gators on Jan. 31, 2016.

Florida on Wednesday released terms of the finalized contracts of their three new football coaches -- Roper, offensive line coach Mike Summers and special teams coordinator Coleman Hutzler. Summers, who coached the offensive line at Southern Cal last season, signed a two-year contract for $190,000 a year. Hutzler, who coached special teams at New Mexico the past two seasons, signed a one-year deal for $230,000. All three assistants also received $10,000 bonuses from the school's apparel contract with Nike.

In other news, the school announced earlier this week that it will open eight spring practices to fans -- in addition to the April 12 spring game. It's a significant change of policy under head coach Will Muschamp. The Gators are clearly hoping to win back some fans after going 4-8 in 2013. Florida had no open practices his first spring in 2011 and only two open practices in each of the past two springs.

UF also announced Muschamp's annual spring speaking tour with eight engagements around the state of Florida as well as two appearances by Summers and one each by Roper and Hutzler.

Hutzler has some psyches to rebuild

January, 22, 2014
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It didn't take Sigmund Freud to see that Florida kicker Austin Hardin would need some special treatment after a calamitous 2013 season.

After Coleman Hutzler was hired in December to be the Gators' special teams coach, he met with all of his specialists and clearly saw his mission -- "rebuilding some confidence, obviously."

Hardin sticks out as a particularly important reclamation project.

Last season, expectations and opportunity loomed large for the No. 1 kicker prospect in the Class of 2012. Hardin's job was to replace Caleb Sturgis, a record-setting All-American who had the kicking duties locked down for three seasons.

Coleman Hutzler
Jeff Barlis/ESPNNew special teams coach Coleman Hutzler's top task is to restore confidence among the Gators' kickers and punters.
Hardin made just 4 of 12 field-goal attempts -- his season-long a 33-yarder -- and opened the door for walk-ons Francisco Velez and Brad Phillips to take the job.

Enter Hutzler, who could see right away in his meeting with Hardin that confidence was the first order of business.

"Yeah, anybody would," Hutzler said. "I wasn't here [last season]. The first thing I said to him was, 'I can't speak on what you went through.' But the bottom line is he's back and ready to work and excited about the opportunity to go out and not make amends, but do right."

Hutzler found himself repeating the advice for all of Florida's kickers.

"That’s been my message to the guys throughout these meetings I’ve had with them," he said. "We need to get back to work, obviously, and get things cleaned up technique-wise and get things cleaned up when it comes to the foot hitting the ball. But we also need to get our confidence back."

The same held true for punter Kyle Christy, a decorated recruit who showed off a powerful leg as soon as he arrived at UF. Christy was a finalist for the Ray Guy Award after averaging a school-record 45.8 yards per punt as a sophomore in 2012. Last year, he slumped badly and ceded his job to true freshman Johnny Townsend, who averaged 42 yards a punt and was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team.

"We've had a chance to sit down in the time that I've been here," Hutzler said of Christy. He said they talked about "just being consistent in what got him to the level he had, the season he had so much success. Getting back to that work ethic, getting back to that confidence in his ability that he has, the techniques that he has and applying those over and over again. I tell those guys it's repeating the same motion over and over. For whatever reason or whatever happened, he did get away from those things.

"[The challenge is] to get him back to that level and compete with a guy like Johnny Townsend, who I'm excited to see work as well this spring."

Hutzler doesn't claim to be a kicking guru, but he certainly has familiarity with the Gators, having served on the staff in 2010 and worked under then-special teams coordinator D.J. Durkin.

"Coleman Hutzler is a guy that was with our staff the first year, understands and knows our special-teams system, how we teach it, our teaching progression," head coach Will Muschamp said last week in introducing his new coaches. "He'll implement it very well. He's a guy that really had a year interview, so to speak, the first year he was here. ...

"We certainly struggled this past year with our specialists, and I think he can help us some there."

To do that, Hutzler might need to spend as much time off the field in helping several Gators get over a difficult 2013 season.

"Guys like Austin Hardin and Kyle Christy and Drew Ferris, the snapper, those guys need to have confidence in their abilities and go out and put it out on the field," he said. "I wasn't here. All that you can go off of is the numbers and the statistics.

"Obviously that’s not the standard that we expect. It starts now with building confidence, bottom line, and working your butt off both in the offseason and then through spring ball."

SEC lunchtime links

January, 17, 2014
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The coaching revolving door continues to spin as a big recruiting weekend arrives across the country -- including the SEC. Let's take a quick spin around the league.

Alabama responds to a report involving a disassociated booster's display featuring supposedly game-used and autographed game apparel of current and former Crimson Tide football players.

A number of key prospects will visit Columbia for South Carolina's big recruiting weekend.

It's a big recruiting weekend at LSU, as well, with megaprospects Malachi Dupre and Lorenzo Carter among the Tigers' expected visitors.

What do you know? Alabama and Auburn will host some key targets this weekend, as well.

Every SEC program except Missouri and Georgia has had to replace more than 30 coaches since 2001, the year Gary Pinkel and Mark Richt took over those respective programs.

Georgia safety Josh Harvey-Clemons' suspension will stretch into the first three games of the 2014 season according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report.

Vanderbilt athletic director David Williams said Thursday night that the interview process is not complete as he searches for James Franklin's replacement as head football coach.

Coleman Hutzler is entrusted with improving Florida's uncharacteristically inconsistent special teams units.

Not surprisingly, Ole Miss and Mississippi State are loading up on in-state prospects in this recruiting class -- but this does not appear to be as deep a year for talent in the state as usual.

Chuck Carlton and Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News discuss whether the Houston Texans should take Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft.

Former Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham told reporters Thursday that a chance to compete for championships weighed into his decision to leave the SEC for the same job at Louisville.

Gators announce two hires

December, 20, 2013
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida has hired New Mexico special teams and outside linebackers coach Coleman Hutzler to fill the same role, head coach Will Muschamp announced Friday.

Hutzler replaces Jeff Choate, who coached at Florida for one season. Muschamp said Choate resigned to pursue other coaching opportunities.

"Coleman is a young coach with a very bright future," 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, 29, coached at UNM for two seasons after spending the previous two seasons at Florida as a defense and special teams assistant, coaching under Urban Meyer in 2010 and Muschamp in 2011.

"I’m excited to be returning to Gainesville and be a part of the Gator family again," Hutzler said. "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."

In his two years at UF, Hutzler worked closely with D.J. Durkin, now the Gators' defensive coordinator. Their connection began at Stanford, where Hutzler and Durkin worked from 2007-09.

Hutzler was credited with immediately improving New Mexico's special teams in his first season. In net punting, the Lobos improved from 112th among FBS schools in 2011 to 25th in 2012 under Hutzler. His punt coverage unit also showed drastic improvement, from ranking 106th in 2011 to 19th in 2012. The Lobos also moved up the rankings in kickoff returns, from 70th to 24th.

The news was first reported by multiple media outlets on Thursday and confirmed by New Mexico on Thursday night.

"I want to thank Coleman for his contributions as we began to build this program," Lobos head coach Bob Davie said in a statement Thursday night. "He is a talented coach and I know he will continue to have success. I wish him the best of luck moving forward."

Muschamp also announced the hiring of director of player personnel Drew Hughes, who held the same title in overseeing NC State's recruiting operations last year.

"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 replaces John Haskins, who resigned in October.

"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."

Before joining the Wolfpack, Hughes was Central Florida’s director of player personnel. He also worked in Alabama's recruiting office from 2007-11.

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