Players reached out to have DB coach return to UF

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[Courtesy of UAA]

On the night the news broke that Florida cornerbacks coach Charlton Warren had left for Georgia, Dan Mullen’s cell phone started blowing up with texts from people recommending a replacement.

Those people happened to be Mullen’s own players. And they all made the same recommendation.

Torrian Gray.

 “I’ve never been in a situation where we lose a coach and basically every player on the team starts texting me, ‘Is there any way we can go hire this guy?’ ” Mullen said. “I didn’t know Torrian, but every one of our players was like, ‘But we have to get him, we have to get him.’

“I’m like, OK, well, he’s currently the secondary coach of the Washington Redskins, so that sounds like a really good idea.”

Mullen may not have known much about Gray, but the players, especially the guys in the secondary, knew a whole lot about him.

They knew he was UF’s secondary coach in 2016, and they knew the Gators’ secondary that season was one of the best in college football, one that included Tez Tabor, Quincy Wilson, Duke Dawson, Marcus Maye and Brian Poole — all of whom are playing in the NFL.

The players wanted Gray back at UF so badly that they not only hit Mullen’s cell phone, some actually called Gray.

“I get a text from (safety) Jeawon Taylor, ‘Coach, would you come back?’ OK, let me look on Twitter, why would he ask me that?” Gray said. “So OK, I see Coach Warren had left. Then (cornerback) Marco (Wilson) gives me a call, (cornerback) CJ (Henderson) gives me a call. ‘I would take it again, yeah I would be interested, I would love to come back. That’s home. If you want to, bring it up to your coach.’

“It was interesting getting that process going in that manner.”

Things went quickly from there. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham called Gray to gauge his interest, Mullen did research on Gray and then brought him to Gainesville two days later for an interview. That same day, a deal was struck and Gray became the Gators’ cornerbacks coach.

Mullen understands now why his players wanted Gray back on the coaching staff.

“As I started to research and as I talked to people, both in college and several people in the NFL about him, I thought, wow, it’s a really unique deal of how highly everybody spoke of him,” Mullen said. “The current players speak really highly of him, guys that have worked with him in college say, ‘Boy, what a great recruiter, great personality as a college coach.’

“Talked to guys in the NFL and talked about his development and his ability to develop young players and all of that sounds great.”

It was just a matter of Mullen meeting Gray to see if he’d be a good fit on the staff. He checked that box also after spending some time with Gray.

Now, Gray, who grew up in Lakeland, is back in Gainesville after spending the past two seasons with the Redskins.

Gray’s first stop at Florida was a short one. Hired by Jim McElwain after the 2015 season, he departed after one season to move up to the NFL.

He hasn’t been gone long, but a lot has changed since he left — mainly the culture under Mullen and the new coaching staff. Gray noticed the change the first time he walked into the weight room and watched the players work out under Nick Savage and the strength and conditioning staff.

“I was really impressed with just their intensity and their effort and those type of things like that,” he said. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is pretty neat to be able to see those guys work down there.’

“I was thoroughly impressed with that.”

Gray also seems impressed with the talent — and the potential — he’s going to be working with. The talent, he said, is similar to what he had during his first coaching stint at UF.

“It was a very talented group (in 2016),” he said. These guys are a little less experienced. But from a talent standpoint you’re barking up the right tree.

“Definitely excited to coach the guys that are in the cornerback group. You’ve got Marco Wilson, C.J. Henderson, those guys are obviously the bell cow. Familiar with those guys before I left.

“And to see the guys we just got, that give us some depth, the freshmen guys. Chris Steele, Jaydon Hill, (Chester) Kimbrough, (Kaiir) Elam. It’s a very talented, talented group. I’m extremely excited to be able to work with these guys.”

Based on all those texts and calls a few weeks ago, the cornerbacks obviously feel the same way about their new coach.

43 COMMENTS

      • Everything in life is about perspective. I doubt the people of color thought America was great when they were treated like animals. Or the native Americans when we gave them reservations to live on. And if it’s up to some of the idiots in Washington now, I’m not sure how great America will be when “there wont be flying anymore”. Now back to sports programming.

        • Right you are Sparky — perspective. The founding ideas of the republic were indeed great, but we have not always lived up to those principles. I’d be hard pressed to find a nation that has tried harder, tho. Now back to sports programming, where when we last checked……….

      • I agree, America and the Gators have always been great. And that greatness has allowed both to survive 8 years of mismanagement and incompetence by the previous administrations.
        Good for you to bring this up, great analogy!
        Go Gators and USA, USA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Dolt 45 has only been president for two years. I find it odd so that may of you with military backgrounds support someone who is in the pocket of He Who Like Showing His Nipples.

          Me? I was never in the military, but the Russkis have been the enemy my entire life. Remember ducking under your desk at school? I do…

          And in case you’re wondering, I didn’t vote for HRC. I voted for the two successful moderate Republican governors of two red states that masqueraded as the Libertarian ticket.

          Back to sports programming.

          • After 2 years of investigations and with a media hungry to find anything at all resembling Russian collusion, nothing has been found. It is amazing that people still parrot the Russian collusion narrative when there is no evidence at all. The hatred for this President runs so deep that common sense is out the window.

          • Albert, I think I speak for most military people when I say that nobody hates war more than a soldier. I would say also that until the last 10 years or so, the military was probably the last bastion of common sense among institutions in the country — I’m not so sure of that anymore, but it does go to illustrate why we tend to support a POTUS that keeps us strong, which is the best deterrent to war that man has ever devised.

          • CO:

            The FACT is, neither you, nor I , nor anyone else, other than the Special Counsel and his team, know what evidence has or has not been uncovered. That is because the Special Counsel does not tweet the contents of his cranium while trying to push out hunks of well done steak with ketchup at 3 am, as does Agent Orange.

            When the report comes out, we will all learn what the man who sits behind the clean-as-a-whistle Resolute desk has done, or has not done. Bobby Three Sticks is a decorated veteran, an honorable man with integrity, who, despite coming from similar circumstances as tRump, chose a career in service of this country, as opposed to a life of lying, cheating, and grifting, and personal aggrandizement. I will accept his word if he says there is no fire, despite all of the smoke. Somehow I suspect if he says Rome (the USA) is burning, you and those like you will just break out your fiddles.

          • Albert, where in the hell is this all coming from? Look, as far as I’m concerned, you’re a good guy….so there’s nothing to be gained by taking a deep, vitriolic dive into the dumpster of left-right politics. A few shots here and there, OK, fair enough, it’s the off season and nothing is going on after the last victory on 06 Feb 19…..but that’s enough.

            I happen to fall with CO on the ideological and historical spectrum as far as what this Republic should look like, as long as we still have it, but I’ll tell you what — if you want to continue the debate why don’t you join us both on the private messaging capability here. That would save everyone else from having to put up with it, and we can all fire for effect to our heart’s content without annoying anyone else. I mean, you’re still wrong as a left shoe — but what the hell? (😁)

          • Albert fact is the media hates Trump more than you do. After 2 years they have tried hard and failed to uncover a single shred of evidence against him. Neither had the special counsel, and every dingle indictment so far has been for things totally unrelated to the original investigation.
            I had enough of this discussion here since no ones mind is going to be changed by what we say
            BTW, the numerous use of derogatory nicknames makes you seem bitter and petty

        • To leave off Dubya and Cheney’s debacle of 8 years, which in MANY ways was mimicked the next 8 is very partisan. They both stink and lie to the tilt…and zero has changed.

          CDM and the Gators!! Much respect for a great season and the future is bright.

    • Gator-6, do you have Netflix? I just watched a documentary titled “The Devil You Know.” It reveals something that I never heard about until tonight. It is about 3M and DuPont, and how together they have poisoned millions around the globe by producing a chemical called C-8 that is used in making Teflon. It is 88 minutes long and everyone should watch it. Use a search engine and read about it. Shows a lot of corruption that goes on here in the USA, but also around the globe. This has been going on for over 60 years and it is like big tobacco as they know the stuff is killing people, but the $$$ is too huge. I believe the figure was profits that average 25 billion per year and yet they were only fined $16,000.000.00 by the EPA (crooks). GO GATORS!!!

    • It iss and always has been.
      Every season, I look forward to Gator football (kind of a letdown in that we wait 8 months for the season to start, and we have to sit through the first game which is usually against a directional team) with great anticipation. For the past few years I’ve had to settle for mediocrity or worse. Now CDM has us dreaming of the possibilities of the future including this upcoming season.

      • At least you’re in Orlando while you twiddle your thumbs for 8 months, buddy. Close your eyes for a moment and just imagine what it’s like now being in Texas doing the same thing. Not that I don’t love Texas — I surely do — but boy does it ever get lonely out here during those long spring and summer months……..if it weren’t for GatorSports, I’d probably lose my freakin’ mind, crack or no crack!

        • Gator-6, here is a solution for boredom that I have used in the past. I have an ICE shirt and I wear it on Sundays and go to my nearest WalMart. There are a superior number of Latino based human beings on Sunday and you can just imagine the looks and running that I can initiate while I shop. Before anyone says anything, I am not racist. I have lots of friends from the military that are Latino and I still keep in touch with them on Facebook. I no longer wear that shirt – I have shirts I wear now that read “DOGS, Because People Suck.” I have 6 different colors…lol. There you go Gator-6, start a fad in Texas. GO GATORS!!!

          • You would get shot in Austin for trying that one!

            But man, do I ever dig those Dog shirts — my wife and I prefer their company to that of most humans, and really don’t associate much with people who don’t like dogs too. Were I to still live in Florida, I wouldn’t associate much with Non-Gators either……but here in Texas you don’t have much choice, so I just call it my contribution to “diversity & inclusion”. ❤🐊!

          • In Miami those latinos that came here through the proper channels have no problem with ICE. In fact many of them are ICE agents, the vast majority have integrated to our American way of life and become productive citizens. Of course we can still enjoy the Cuban sandwich, a cafecito and several mojitos.

      • Gelco30 – thanks and CO – I can remember driving through Miami in the 80’s and seeing the Cuban boat people residing under Interstate 95. I have seen rafts wash up on the beaches in Sunny Isles (where the strippers used to sun bath, they still might, but it has been a long time since I was there), and Daytona Beach. They were empty, but you could just imaging what it must have been like on that journey. I actually worked for a Cuban immigrant by the name of Julian Lopez. He was buds with Fulgencio Batista and fled before the were Castroated…LOL. I try to be punny. And yes, me and Cuban food get along well. So now I have a new shirt that I am going to acquire and it reads “Sons of Arthritis – Ibuprofen Division.” I believe it is available on that site named after a river in South America. I will stop for now. I gotta give a shout out to the Lady GATORS softball team for finally getting a remodel that they have long deserved. GO GATORS!!!

  1. Interesting story. I think that it speaks highly of Dan Mullen and the respect he showed to his young players. He did not know coach Gray but listened to his players, followed up and did his due diligence, which led to a personal meeting with Gray. End result is two fold; Gators gets an excellent coach and recruiter, and Mullen’s players see first hand that they have a head coach who listens to and respects them. Gator Nation is stronger for this. Great to be a Gator.

  2. this is dbu we are talking about, where everyone from former players, current players, maybe even recruits, as well as coaches and administrators have ownership of things. i love CDM, but the early days of DBU started before CDM was born, and i look forward to it lasting even longer! Truth is, we’ve had a lot of builders here. im too young to know before ray graves, but he bought the monster man safety concept . Coach Dickey brought speed to burn, charlie pell brought the great wall of florida, Coach Hall made us Running Back Central, and We all know the ole ball coach and the rest. I look forward to CDM adding some more things, he is already at or near our top qb coach ever. Even Champ, our worst coach in my lifetime, kept and improved upon DBU, and coach Gray will take this farther than ever.

  3. Coach Warren is clearly an excellent defensive secondary coach. However, while we lost him to Georgia (or so I believe), we have regained Coach Gray, who clearly is the better coach (no offense to Coach Warren intended). That our defensive backs wanted Coach Gray so much that Coach Mullen agreed to research, evaluate and hire him is absolutely wonderful! That some of the players even contacted Coach Gray asking him to return is very cool! That Coach Gray himself was willing to leave the Redskins to return to UF (Torrian’s backyard, since he is originally from Lakeland) is fantastic – I love this story – it tells me that the Gators are returning to their roots, and are destined to once again achieve incredibly great goals. Thank you, Coach Mullen and Coach Gray, for your dedication to the University of Florida. GO GATORS!!!

    • IAMIOWAN. It is great to have Gray back, but he did not leave the Washington Redskins. His contract with the Skins was not renewed at the end of the season, and he was no longer employed by them. Washington got rid of a lot of coaches after a disappointing season, but the secondary for Washington was not disappointing other than them kicking their best secondary player off the team.

  4. I would like to kno if this sets a precedence, where players ask an assistant coach to return to a team. Even if it’s not a first, it has to be a helluva recruiting incentive. btw, UGA’s schedule looks almost as soft as lotion infused snot rags. I bet we handle the Dawgs. My concern is with Mizzerie. We don’t seem to show up for that form of a Tiger. Reminds me of Vandy, except they win more than not.

    • The recent domination by Missouri has been more about Drew Lock than anything. Unfortunately for them he’s gone now. The bowl ban may also cause them to lack focus. I think Kelly Bryant looked a lot better than he is because of the supporting cast he had at Clemson. I’m expecting that game to be one of the easier wins.