UF defensive line coach leaving for Alabama

UF defensive line coach Sal Sunseri. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Along with recruiting, Florida football coach Dan Mullen can add another important item to his do-to list for the next several weeks: find a new defensive line coach.

Veteran defensive line coach Sal Sunseri is leaving UF to become part of Nick Saban’s coaching staff at Alabama, according to multiple reports. Sunseri previously worked with Saban on the Alabama staff from 2009-2011.

In his one season with the Gators, the UF defensive line became a team strength, led by defensive end/outside linebacker Jachai Polite, who had 11.5 sacks on the season and likely will be a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

Before joining Mullen’s staff, Sunseri spent the previous three years in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders.

In Tuscaloosa, Sunseri will be reunited with his son, Vinnie, who joined the Alabama staff earlier this week as a graduate assistant.

Sunseri has more than 35 years of coaching experience at the college level and in the NFL.


  1. It’s all good – it looks as though Sal Sunseri is only a couple of burgers away from a massive heart attack. We only want players and coaches here that want to be here. CDM will no doubt bring in someone that will be awesome. Makes you wonder if this was done by bama to sway a defensive player or two to choose them over us. We will find out Feb. 6th. GO GATORS!!!

    • Good point. With the emphasis now on fitness it might be better to have a coach who doesn’t look like the warning label on a jar of pickled pigs feet. I think he was probAbly more known for his relentless eat~ fert because when he went to the dining hall he ordered “everything in a bucket, eggs on top,”

      • Jaws – thanx for the laugh…I should have stated pigs feet instead of burgers. It is a Southern thang…LOL. If anyone is going to leave this GATOR NATION and go to any other SEC school, well then I am going to be as brutal as I can muster gelco30…lol. I bet he cannot even see his own toes. OK – enough dwelling on the past. I mean we took CDM’s away from MS., so now we know how it feels. Karma is a bitch and so was my X. It will be sweet when we beat Bama for the SEC Championship with numb nurtz coaching the D-line for them. MS had their shot at Karma, but CDM was above their reproach for vengeance…LMAO! Now we aim at Bulldogs and Aunt Martha (The Crimson Tide) LOLOL. GO GATORS!!!

  2. My initial thought was, “meh”. Everything I’ve read about him criticized his recruiting and I’ve read a bunch of articles where the opinion was the DL under achieved. I have zero clue whether either is true but I have enough faith in CDM to weather any potential recruiting or developmental drawbacks. After 35 years, I would assume he’s at the tail end of his career and probably doesn’t have as much “relentless effort” as he once did. Of course, that could be false as well.

  3. Any disruption in the coaching staff just weeks away from signing day is bound to have a negative effect on the opinions of affected recruits, in this case defensive tackles the Gators really need to sign. Hopefully, we won’t lose Moore on account of this sudden move.

    Go Gators!!!

  4. I appreciate the man’s time here. He did a good job. We love them a week ago when he was still on the staff. Let’s not act like FSU and throw him under the bus with a heart attack to boot. Coach Mullen checked off every box so far, and I am confident he will do it again. This will be a blessing in disguise.

    • mfkgator – It is my given right to talk smack about anyone and everyone I deem worthy of my disdain. If you take these things as a personal swipe, and that I wish these heart attacks and such would happen realistically, well then man you have not one ounce of humor in your bones. But I also am capable of traveling to New Orleans and purchasing little dolls with pins to make my point…LOL. Get it “point?” You and the star fish there are also entitled to say what you want towards me or anyone else for that matter. I do not take anything personally unless someone were to physically attack me or mine. Therefore, you can expect this from me in the future from time to time. I have multiple personalities and it all depends on which one is on the site on any given day. I only claim 3 of them, so the other 14 are on their own. GO GATORS!!!

      • Gator Ed- I don’t think anyone questioned your right to post comments that make you look like an immature idiot, nor do I think anyone was asking for your permission to state any opinions about you or any other subject. You made a comment, he made a comment… and everyone moves on. And not thinking the things you write are funny may not be an indication of anyone lacking a sense of humor, but rather perhaps an indication of you just not being funny. GO GATORS!!!

        • Patrick – I appreciate your tolerance of me. Often it is hard to realize any humor on these sites as all there is that you can ascertain from these comments is what you read in black and white. I must remember these things when I comment. Also, I was in the Army for quite some time, and we tend to bash each other and to be down right rude to one another. OK – I am done for now. We have a pretty good site here to talk about our GATORS and I have been a fan since the late 60’s when I was a kid. So I can’t wait for the next football season to arrive. Our GATORS are back in good hands and back to where we expect to be. GO GATORS!!!

          • I got the humor. I have one too. You can say whatever you want . Not a fan of censuring anyone. But I am going to say what the hell I want too, and you may love it at times and have a problem with it at other times. We love Mullen right now. But if he left tomorrow, funny how he would be the worst coach in the world. And that was my point. Sunseri is a good coach and was considered such as a Gator. And he didn’t stop being one bc he now works for another team. Funny too how coaches who suck when they coach for another team magically become great ones when we hire them. I know you were joking about the heart attack, and I know you wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Godspeed to you my friend.

          • Hi Gator Ed. I just noticed this. I wasn’t offended. Just a pet peeve of mine about people responding to any criticism with “I have a right…” Of course you do, and no one was questioning your right. Your comment wasn’t that big of a deal, and mkfgator’s comment wasn’t either- he just made a comment about your comment with slight criticism but not a big deal. I am former Army myself and spent several years on top of that working directly with the Army (in war zones) and surrounded by retired Army, so I am not easily offended, and my sense of humor is quite dark. But yeah, as you mention, things often don’t translate as well in print.

          • Y’all take it easy on Ed — you have to know his background to get some of his humor! No harm intended, I’m quite sure.

          • Joe – I couldn’t believe that the starfish reference had to be explained…lol. Patrick – it was just because you have the name it was nothing personal. I get bored and like to stir the pot at times. I love to elicit responses from people that don’t appear to have any fun in life. I feel comfortable enough on this site to be as immature as a 14 y/o, while having life experiences of a man that has seen the world and has lived for over half a century…lol. I even made jokes at my Mothers death bed because she would have appreciated it. It was about coming back and haunting family members. I post this to let everyone know that I tend to make jokes whether or not anyone else finds it funny. I will never get personal and I think just about anything is fair game as long as it doesn’t get nasty. Other than that, I hope everyone responds with their true opinions as it helps mentally to spar with others that don’t share my same views…lol. This, I hope, will help me stave off any old timers diseases that may arise from getting older. To err is human, to forgive divine, to make jokes is Gator Ed’s job. GO GATORS!!!

          • Ed, I’m living proof that you can’t stave off CRS Disorder no matter how hard you try….. but there are times, in certain environments, under certain conditions, in the company of certain men that you would do anything in the world for because they are your brothers, that you learn to laugh instead of cry…..that you learn to appreciate a certain macabre humor that is hard to understand unless one has experienced that certain environment……

            Experience it more than once, and it tends to stick with you. It’s all good if your heart is in the right place, which I know yours is. Rock of the Marne, man. ✔✔

  5. Coach’s come and coach’s go as one recruit said.It’s all about the Gator brand!! Sell the Gator brand and they will come. Sal worked 3 years at Bama under Saban so, he knows what is expected from Saban. CDM hasn’t let us down yet, actually the opposite so, I expect him to exceed our expectations with his next hire. Besides, who wouldn’t want to come to one of the Best colleges in all of college? Goooooooooo GATORS!!!!

  6. Sunseri is a very good coach and I hate to lose him, but the timing of his departure is actually pretty good for us. For whatever reason, the Philadelphia Eagles have chosen not to renew Chris Wilson’s contract. He has been their D line coach for the last three years including their super bowl winning 2016 team. He worked for CDM at MSU from 2010 to 2012. In 2010 he was Mullen’s co-defensive coordinator and D line coach, and in 2011 and 2012 he was the DC and D line coach there. He has a very extensive background in collegiate coaching having worked at Southern Cal, the University of Oklahoma, Indiana State, NE Oklahoma A&M, Illinois State, the University of Colorado, Mississippi State, and the University of Georgia. He played at Oklahoma and was a team captain there recording 303 tackles. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the NFL. He is a great teacher and quite articulate. I can see him being a great recruiter too because he is a personable, passionate and highly experienced guy with whom players should be able to relate. He is 54 but looks younger. Finally, given the large percentage of African American players in collegiate football today, it can only help to have another highly qualified African American coach on staff too. Come on down Chris.

    • Gatordoc88 – that was awesome! If CDM could get him to come here, then we would be set until the NFL comes looking for him again. I only say that because you brought up his skin color. The NFL needs more dark skinned coaches there as well. I hope the Dolphins grab the Pats assistant for their HCing spot. You were very elaborate in your reply showing extensive research on him. Now the wait begins…lol. Thanx Gatordoc88! GO GATORS!!!

    • Elam was and is not making his choice between Florida and Georgia based on Warren just being or no longer just being in Gainesville, and he will not be going to Georgia just because Warren is now in Athens. He is a very bright kid and his decision will be based on multiple factors, with his educational opportunities and ability to be developed as a player being two of the top reasons. Georgia and Florida can provide both things for him. I believe other factors will determine if he picks Georgia or Florida and little to do with Warren now being at Georgia But Mullen hiring a new CBs coach and getting him in front of Elam ASAP will not hurt with his recruitment. But I doubt Mullen is soon going to forget how Smart went about getting Warren and the timing of it.

  7. BAMA and UGA are smart they steal from us to make themselves stronger and us weaker. They see UF as their competition. Pretty sad if these coaches are leaving us for sideways moves. Saban is characterized as hard to work for but that can’t be the case when coaches keep going back to him at their first opportunity. Same may be said for Smart too.

    Hurt us on the recruiting trail and staff wise. Our biggest recruiting needs still remaining are DL and DB. So the 2 best teams in the SEC steal our DL and DB coach. Seems pretty obvious what happened here.

    • Actually, David, I think Sunseri went back to Bama to coach with his son, who just joined the Bama staff as a GA. Sunseri is not likely to coach for a lot more years and he probably wants to be involved with helping develop his son as a coach at Bama. And Warren is from Atlanta, and he has a lot more connections for recruiting in Georgia than he has in Florida. Likely a wise move for him, and I have no doubt he will be the main DBs coach at Georgia (he was not at Florida) and will earn much more money at Georgia than he was going to earn at Florida. Logical move for Warren, as well as a upward move career wise for him.

  8. I hate to a DB coach leave but I must confess we have had good luck with defensive coaches in recent years so we SB ok. Offense not as much at least until CDM came back. Still this will help Georgia and bama so it’s not ideal

  9. Coaches that leave could be because of poor chemistry, or leaving for more money, or not into recruiting that is so necessary for any position coach. David Turner who has worked with Mullen seems like a very adequate replacement and possibly better recruiter.