Florida football: New coach Billy Napier announces four staff hires, retains Vernell Brown

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports
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New Florida football coach Billy Napier announced four hires Monday, while former Gator and Gainesville native Vernell Brown Jr. revealed he will remain with the program. 

Napier’s first additions to his UF staff spent all four years with him at Louisiana: associate head coach/director of football strength and conditioning Mark Hocke, co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Patrick Toney, running backs coach/associate head coach Jabbar Juluke, and offensive analyst Ryan O’Hara, who will coach the quarterbacks with Napier. 

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Brown, a GHS alum and UF cornerback from 2001-05, announced on social media he was being retained by Napier. Brown was hired as Florida’s director of football student-athlete development and pro liaison in Feb. 2018, though it’s unclear what his job title will be on the new staff. 

Hocke spent six seasons at Alabama under Nick Saban, including three with Napier, and also had stints at Georgia, Florida State and Texas A&M. He will replace UF strength coach Nick Savage. 

Toney served as the Ragin' Cajuns defensive coordinator the past two years and coached their safeties (2018-2020) and outside linebackers (2021). His previous coaching stops are UTSA, Sam Houston State and Southeastern Louisiana. 

Juluke has previously served as the running backs coach at Texas Tech, LSU and Louisiana Tech. During his time with the Tigers, he tutored one of the nation’s top running backs in Leonard Fournette. 

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O’Hara, the former starting quarterback at Arizona and Central Oklahoma, helped develop Louisiana’s Levi Lewis, the first 3,000-yard passer in program history (3,050) and setting the single-season record for touchdown passes (26). Prior to ULL, O’Hara worked at Alabama A&M University, where he served as offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach, and coached quarterbacks at Mt. San Antonio College and Santa Monica College. 

With the hiring of Juluke, O’Hara and Toney, current UF assistants Greg Knox (running backs), Garrick McGee (quarterbacks) and Wesley McGriff (secondary) will not be on Napier’s coaching staff after the bowl game.

Napier has also decided not to retain cornerbacks coach Jules Montinar and defensive line coach David Turner, according to reports from On3, while tights end coach Tim Brewster announced he would not be returning to UF. Linebackers coach Christian Robinson is being evaluated by Napier as a potential staff hire, though no decision has been made on his future, multiple sources told The Sun.

New Florida football coach Billy Napier made staff decisions Monday. “We’re going to try to put our personality, our spin on it, our brand in recruiting. We’re the University of Florida. … It’s going to take some time" Napier said Sunday.

Gasparilla Bowl

Who: Florida (6-6) vs. UCF (8-4)

When: 7 p.m. Dec. 23

Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa

TV: ESPN

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

Tickets: https://www.gasparillabowl.com/tickets/

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