Former defensive coordinator Quinn reminisces on time at UF
Published: Friday, March 21, 2014 at 8:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 21, 2014 at 9:39 p.m.
Dan Quinn resides in a totally different world now, one that features a new league, a new job and is all the way on the other side of the country.
But the Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator, fresh off a Super Bowl win, said he still feels strongly connected to the University of Florida and those he coached and worked with on Will Muschamp's staff.
“Being on the West Coast, I got to see a lot of the (Florida) games (last fall),” said Quinn, who has returned to Gainesville this weekend to speak at UF's high school coaches clinic. “Some of our walkthroughs on Saturday didn't coincide, so my wife would text me the score.
“So, I was always connected to the people here. I think I always will be. I had an absolute blast coaching here. I think it was all the people that were part of this university, from (Athletic Director) Jeremy (Foley) and Will. They all treated you in a first-class way.”
After spending 10 years coaching in the NFL, Quinn left professional football to join Muschamp's staff as the defensive coordinator in 2011. His defense was one of the best in the nation for the two seasons he was here, and was especially strong in 2012, when the Gators went 11-1 in the regular season.
Quinn left Gainesville after the 2012 season to return to Seattle as the defensive coordinator. He had been the Seahawks' defensive line coach before he was hired by Muschamp.
Quinn returned to the UF practice field for the first time Friday afternoon. He received hugs and handshakes from many of the players and coaches.
“It's awesome (being back), because so many of the faces, not just the coaches, but from the players and some of the guys,” Quinn said. “They gave me such a warm welcome back. It was awesome.
“This was my first experience at a big-time college. I coached in the NFL for 10 years. I thought I knew what it was like, but I realize what an important job we had as coaches to help develop the guys, not just on the field but off the field, too.
“I took that responsibility seriously. It's nice to have the connection with them and see some of the guys today.”
Quinn said he expects Muschamp and the Gators to rebound from the 4-8 season in 2013.
“There are a lot of guys on this team, and coaches, too, who have a lot of grit,” he said. “Setbacks are not going to stop them. I know they're going to be ready to go.”
Quinn spent some of his time on the practice field Friday with two of his former players — defensive tackle Dominique Easley and defensive end/Buck linebacker Ronald Powell. Easley and Powell are getting ready to make their move to the NFL.
“I got a chance to see them both in Indy (for the NFL combine), which is a good thing. I've stayed in contact with both of them,” Quinn said. “I had a close relationship with both of them. I can't wait to see them in the next part of their career.”
While Quinn's former team suffered through a losing season last fall, his new team made a clean run through the playoffs, then dominated Denver and quarterback Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl.
“It was a blast. It really was,” Quinn said. “The NFL is a long season. The effort and enthusiasm the guys played with was fun to be a part of. I'm looking forward to getting back.”
Quinn said there are things he misses about Florida.
“One of the things I liked the most was I had a chance to visit with these guys and help them develop, off the field, too, just seeing them grow up,” he said. “I certainly miss baseball games and hoops games and being on a college campus.
“It's something you can't simulate anywhere else.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.