Florida football coach Billy Napier addresses departure of Paul Pasqualoni to the NFL

Graham Hall

Florida football coach Billy Napier held a press conference Friday addressing spring practice and his plan going forward for Gators football. 

He also addressed a departure in the program in the days following National Signing Day. 

Napier didn’t retain much of former coach Dan Mullen’s support staff, opting to take the approach of cleaning house and starting fresh. Paul Pasqualoni, who spent the previous two seasons as a special assistant to Mullen, was a notable exception. 

Highly regarded internally by players and administration alike, Pasqualoni was elevated to on-field staff in the departure of defensive coordinator Todd Grantham before being retained by Napier, albeit in a new role as the program’s director of advanced scouting and self-scout. 

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Paul Pasqualoni's previous NFL job was as the defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions from 2018-19.

“I was so impressed with Coach P, just as a person. Obviously his, not only knowledge, but wisdom in terms of how to apply that knowledge,” Napier said. “The guy’s done a lot of different jobs at a lot of different levels. Unique in his ability to understand all three phases of the game.”

But Pasqualoni, 72, received a job offer Tuesday he couldn’t pass up: the Carolina Panthers’ newest defensive line coach

Upon learning of Pasqualoni’s impending departure, multiple current UF players chimed in with regards and well-wishes, indicating how highly respected the former Syracuse head coach was in Gainesville.

Napier called it a “no-brainer” when it came to retaining Pasqualoni, though he understands why he’d pursue an on-field role at the game’s highest level.

“We were excited for him. As he said going out the door there, he said, ‘You know what, I’ve got one more chance to go get on the field and coach’,” Napier recalled. “I think that’s the thing I respect about Coach P — he loves the game. He loves working with the players. He loves making the players better. He’s got a passion for people.”

Pasqualoni, 72, is a longtime college coach, beginning his career in 1972, and has been a head coach three times, for Division II Western Connecticut State, Syracuse and Connecticut. In the NFL, Pasqualoni was most recently the defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions from 2018-19.