Mullen discusses Cece Jefferson injury, status of transfers and former UF greats

Dan Mullen, UF Head Football Coach, addresses the media before speaking to the Polk Gator Club at the Lake Mirror Center in Lakeland, Florida Monday. Mullen, the new UF head football coach, is in Lakeland to speak to the Polk Gators. [PIERRE DUCHARME/THE LEDGER ]

By Brady Fredericksen,
The Lakeland Ledger

LAKELAND — It’s been 11 years since the “Gatornaughts” arrived in Gainesville.

Dan Mullen hasn’t forgotten about them.

That group of seven Lakeland High standouts — Ahmad Black, John Brown, Mike Pouncey, Maurkice Pouncey, Chris Rainey, Steve Wilks and Paul Wilson — came to the University of Florida together in 2007.

Back then, Mullen was the offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer.

Nowadays, he is, of course, in his first year as the Gators’ head coach.

Sitting in the back of the Lake Mirror Center on Monday before speaking to nearly 500 fans at the Polk County Gator Club’s Gator Gathering event, a smile crept onto Mullen’s face when he was asked about that vaunted group.

“I loved having the Pouncey brothers and Rainey,” Mullen said. “One of the funny ones that people forget is the Pouncey brothers weren’t like the highest-recruited kids. They were kind of the three-star, afterthought type guys. I do remember them coming to camp and I said, ‘My, those guys love to compete. They love ball.’ I loved their personality, their demeanor.”

Mullen spoke plenty about Polk County during his evening in Lakeland.

He said that he spent some time with Chris Rainey, currently a special teams standout in the CFL, earlier this month. Ahmad Black, who retired from the NFL a few years back, graduated from Florida this year after working as a student assistant last year.

Mullen acknowledged that the football talent in the area spans beyond Bryant Stadium and the Dreadnaughts. And he made sure to point out that, with only linebacker Ventrell Miller of Kathleen on the roster, his program needs to get more kids from the county.

“Lakeland’s changed. Some things have changed. Some things haven’t,” he said. “Well, one thing is we don’t have all the superstar players that we need from Lakeland to make sure we get back to go build a championship roster.”

Looking for a QB?

Fans hoping the Gators would dive into the graduate transfer quarterback market for a third-straight year may be in for some disappointment.

Mullen said, right now, he did not expect to add another quarterback to a room featuring rising sophomores Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask as well as early-enrollee Emory Jones.

Florida has been linked to Ohio State’s graduating quarterback Joe Burrow in recent days.

“I don’t think that’s a spot we would look to take anyone,” Mullen said. “I feel pretty good about the guys we have and the depth we’re creating at that position and the competition at that position.”

Not worried about CeCe

CeCe Jefferson spurned the NFL Draft to return to Florida for his senior season.

After undergoing surgery on his right shoulder — injured during the spring game on April 14 — Mullen said he wasn’t worried about the injury having an impact on Jefferson this season.

“I don’t even really check with our trainers until it hits mid-July,” Mullen said. “They feel pretty confident having him back in some nature in training camp.”

Waiting on Jefferson

Former Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson was granted immediate eligibility at Michigan last week, but Mullen and the Gators are still unsure of the status of Van Jefferson.

The former Rebels receiver left Ole Miss for Florida after last season. Unlike Patterson, whether the NCAA will allow him to play immediately in 2018 is still up in the air.

“I never try to guess what outcomes are going to be on that,” Mullen said. “We’re going to diligently work to get everything done and have all the information that’s needed and then we’ll wait on (the NCAA’s) decision.”


  1. Glad to hear Mullen is not following in the footsteps of stupid and dumb dumb, bringing in broken down hack quarterbacks. Work with the guys you got, rather than go after people who failed at other schools. The balding, feeble old men The idiot Twins brought in helped us achieve one of the most pathetic and unproductive offenses in the nation two years running. They did not elevate the program but simply dragged it down deeper into the Nussmire. Let’s learn from the Idiots Twins and do things right in the future.

    • Yup, I have more confidence in Mullen & Crew than I ever had for Mac. That’s not bashing Mac, it’s just a fact that his cable tow was a hell of a lot shorter than required for the position.

      • Chase. He will play QB in the NFL. Burrow will. But it seems he is not headed to Florida beforehand. Maybe he has told Mullen he is staying at OSU or that he will go to Nebraska if he leaves OSU.

      • DM does not want to go down the Appleby, Zaire, DelRio transfer road. That road was traveled by butters and the results are in the history books. As Richard Dery posted, this crew does things different. It is not all about this year, it is about building a real program. The hurdle is going to be Kirby. As Matt Wyatt (former QB at Miss St) said, DM most always came up on the short stick with 4 and 5 stars. He will not win a one on one recruiting battle with Kirby or Saban. So….we hope DM can coach up the talent he can bring in. Suspect top 25 recruiting class, but certainly not top 10.

        • Why put your finger in the dyke when you can spend a little more effort and build a better dyke instead? Our share of the 5* talent will come later–I’m sure of that. In the meantime our average for this coming season is very near a mean of 4*, and I predict Coach Mullen & Staff will develop them nicely. Good post, Gary….Richard Dery is a wise old bird, ain’t he?

  2. No, Rainey has not gotten a degree from UF. Ahmad Black of Lakeland did, however. Time to get 3-4 Polk Countians in class of 2019. One from Lakleand High, 1 from Kathleen, 1 from Auburndale, and 1 from IMG via Lakeland High would fit into this class nicely. Go get them, Coach.