Quinn having fun at Florida
Published: Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 6:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 16, 2012 at 12:36 a.m.
Dan Quinn left behind a 10-year career in the NFL to become Will Muschamp's defensive coordinator at Florida. Now that Quinn's defense is starting to enjoy elite status, many are wondering how long it will be before he scoots back to the NFL.
Well, it may be a while.
At least that's the vibe Quinn sends out when he starts talking about his college coaching experience at Florida.
“I've had a blast doing it,” he said. “Where you get a chance to help these guys grow and develop so much, that's been one of the fun things for me.
“We're talking about a (Jonathan) Bullard or a (Dante) Fowler, or a guy like Omar Hunter or Jon Bostic. To help them develop and grow fast, those are the things I enjoy. And that's what is different.
“Both of them (UF and the NFL) are different and fun and still coaching, and it's what I love to do. But, the relationships of helping the guys (at UF) develop is something you certainly appreciate.”
The NFL certainly appreciates what Quinn is doing at UF. At the end of last season, Quinn turned down the opportunity to become the defensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to return for a second season at Florida.
Given his extensive experience in the NFL with four different teams (Seahawks, Jets, Dolphins and 49ers), and what he's accomplished so far at UF, he's likely on the short list of defensive coordinator candidates for a lot of pro coaches and general managers.
Quinn was asked Wednesday if his time at UF has made him rethink where he wants to be in four or five years.
“Not as much in terms of trying to think too far ahead,” he said. “We move enough in this profession as it is. To be honest with you, I really enjoy it here, and enjoy working for Will. Basically, it's a good place. You can get good players here. We can win here. It's an easy place to like, if that makes sense.
“I don't know how to say it in a better way. Part of the reason I decided to come here was, one, I wanted to work with Will. Two, I thought if it was going to be in a college setting, I'd want to do it where you could really have a chance to win. And, certainly, this place you can do that.”
The opportunity to develop players, and help them possibly get to where he came from, the NFL, seems to be the part of his job Quinn is enjoying most.
At Florida, there is plenty of promising talent, young and old, to work with.
Several of the veteran players appear to have made great strides under Quinn and his staff, including senior middle linebacker Jon Bostic, senior safety Josh Evans, junior safety Matt Elam and junior defensive linemen Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley.
Elam and Floyd are now considered possible early departures for the NFL. Some draft experts have Floyd going in the first round if he comes out. Many are projecting Elam could could go as high as the third round.
Quinn said two of the most improved players on defense are Elam and Evans, the two safeties.
“(Evans) definitely,” Quinn said. “As far as Matt, one of the things that shows is the explosive plays, the explosive hits in terms of taking on blocks and defeating blockers and hitting ball carriers.
“He's a good blitzer. The closer he gets to the line, the more plays he makes. One of the things that jumps out is he is a physical tackler. Those are some of the things that jump out in his game.
“Hopefully, I'm not having that discussion (about replacing Elam after this season). I don't think I will.”
Quinn said two of the younger players who are developing at a relatively rapid rate are true freshmen defensive ends Dante Fowler Jr. and Jonathan Bullard, whose playing time has steadily increased this season.
Bullard has started two games and Fowler one.
“One of the things that's impressed me most about our two (freshman) defensive ends is they keep improving,” Quinn said. “First, where do I line up and how do I get in my stance to play? Now, how can I impose my will on this play?
“That's what you're seeing more of from them. It's more comfort in the scheme to know exactly what the blocks look like and what plays might likely happen based on the sets. We will continue to see those guys improve.
“That's why, for me, it's fun coaching in college. You can see the improvement happen fast.”