Florida line coach Summers draws acclaim from former players


Florida offensive line coach Mike Summers had previous coaching stints with Kentucky and Southern California, as well as the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, before joining the Gators this year.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at 6:04 p.m.

A day before Florida's spring game, UF starting left tackle D.J. Humphries posted a picture on his Instagram account of he and new Gators offensive line coach Mike Summers.

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Florida offensive line coach Mike Summers had previous coaching stints with Kentucky and Southern California, as well as the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, before joining the Gators this year.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer

His caption: “We work well together.”

His hashtag: #Technician.

Southern Cal offensive lineman Zach Banner commented on Humphries' photo, calling Summers one of the best coaches in the game.

“Trust him,” Banner wrote. “He's the truth.”

Talk to more of Summers' former players, and you'll hear similar feelings about the 34-year coaching veteran.

He spent a total of seven years under Bobby Petrino, including his one season with the Atlanta Falcons, before coaching at Kentucky from 2010-2012 and USC last year.

Former UK lineman Trevino Woods spent the last three years of his college career with Summers.

“It was great,” he said. “I had only had two coaches before him — in high school and the previous coach that was at Kentucky. Out of the three, he was definitely my favorite. I feel like I learned a good bit from him, especially just general sayings and things that keep you going daily. Not only just in football, but in life to help you project forward and know what to expect.”

Woods still remembers the sign Summers put up in the offensive line meeting room his second day on the job.

“It said, 'Everything matters,' ” Woods recalled. “He explained it, and basically it's self-explanatory. From the smallest of things, like taking the right step when you're coming off the line to giving your teammates some love when they score a touchdown. Everything matters. He just put a real emphasis on that. It was amazing to think that way. Nothing is left out and no stone is unturned.”

Woods said Summers' best attribute is his attention to detail, and there's never a moment in practice when he's not coaching, evaluating or teaching someone. He also goes extra lengths to prepare his players for their opponents.

“He played defense in college, and that was one of the most surprising things about him,” Woods said. “One of the things he had us do that I never experienced before was to learn the defense and what they do. It goes back to that saying — everything matters. The average O-lineman can look at the defensive lineman in front of him and see what he's going to do, but coach Summers takes it to the next level.

“He'll make you look up and watch the patterns of the defensive backs or the formations so you know what blitz is going to come. That's a center's job or a quarterback's job. They're supposed to tell us. But he made all of us know what's going on, even the guys not playing.”

Last year a few of Florida's offensive linemen said there were chemistry and communication issues among the players at the position, which contributed to their struggles. Woods doesn't think that will happen with the Gators under Summers.

“I can definitely say that coach Summers will bring a focus with him anywhere he goes, and he makes the group that he works with feel special,” Woods said. “We may just be a typical O-line from the outside looking in, but there's a certain bond that just naturally happens with him.

“It's not something he forces. Everybody feels included and like they're part of the group, from the oldest guy and best O-linemen on the team to the true freshman that just came in.”

Summers only spent one season with former USC offensive lineman John Martinez, but he left a lasting impression on him.

“Coach Summers is the man,” Martinez said. “I had such a great time being underneath him for that one year. He's a very passionate guy. He definitely cares about his guys just like any other coach does, but coach Summers has a way of keeping us motivated and always keeping a cause or purpose in our heads. He had something new to teach us every day.”

Martinez said Summers is very hands-on in the way he shows assignments, moves and techniques. And unlike former UF offensive line coach Tim Davis, who was quick to yell and scream when things went wrong, Summers seems to have a different coaching style.

“Coach Summers does have that loud voice when he needs to discipline us, but he's usually very calm and approachable,” Martinez said. “That was more helpful with most of the guys that were on our team. When you just yell at somebody and continue to do that, it doesn't sink in as well as when you're able to just talk about it. So I feel like having coach Summers being that way made us progress a lot better on the offensive line.”

Martinez, who plays for the AFL's Orlando Predators, said Summers played a key role in the Trojans winning seven of their last nine games in 2013. He expects him to have the same impact at UF.

“Before coach Summers came to USC, we had some struggles on the offensive line,” Martinez said. “We were falling apart, and I feel like he just took all the pieces there and put us back together. We had some guys that were about themselves, and he made us a unit. The offensive line is the only group on the field that has five guys at a time. It's a team within a team. We're the heart and soul of the squad, and that's what coach Summers taught us.

“If Florida's offensive line just listens to him, keeps an open mind and lets coach Summers do what he does, I have no doubt in my mind that they will be awesome by the end of the year.”

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