Florida Gators cornerbacks see growth and change with Corey Raymond in charge

Noah Ram
Special to Gator Sports

Last season, the Florida Gators struggled on the defensive end. UF allowed nearly 370 total yards a game, ranked 51st in college football, with more than 200 coming in the passing game. 

The shoddy performance resulted in the firing of defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and much of the defensive staff. 

For his cornerbacks coach in 2022, new coach Billy Napier turned to a man from the bayou: Corey Raymond. 

Florida hired the Louisiana native, and so far, the former coach at LSU is making an impact with his players. 

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Corey Raymond, assistant head coach for defense/cornerbacks, instructs his players during spring practice in Gainesville, on Tuesday, March 22, 2022.

Jason Marshall sees difference already

Cornerback Jason Marshall Jr. said Raymond’s teachings are preparing the team for improvement, not just at the collegiate level but for the NFL as well. 

“My technique has gotten way better,” Marshall said. “Every coach has their ways, but his is helping a lot.” 

Marshall said he knew Raymond in high school because the Tigers recruited the Miami native. When UF brought in Raymond, Marshall said it was a blessing. 

“I turned him down there, and then all of a sudden, he was here,” Marshall said. 

The 6-foot 192-pound sophomore landed in Gainesville as the program’s highest-rated recruit. He started five games opposite Kaiir Elam and impressed, with an interception and 32 total tackles. 

Marshall said he learned a lot from Elam, who is a projected first-round pick in next month’s NFL draft. 

“There’s a lot of words used to describe him,” he said. “I still connect with him, and I just talked to him a few days ago. How much he studies off the field is what sets him apart.” 

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Raymond, a former NFL player, brings intense energy to each practice, and Marshall said this attitude pressures the group to match his passion. 

“His coverages broaden out my game,” he said. “I get to work on my off-man technique, which I couldn’t do a lot last year.” 

Raymond said he’s observed Marshall revamp his game and build. 

“As a coach, it’s great to see him make that improvement,” he said. 

Corey Raymond competed with Billy Napier for recruits

Raymond said he learned to respect Napier while they competed for recruits in Louisiana. 

“He’s so competitive, but he’s also a good man, so when the opportunity came up to come here, it felt right,” Raymond said. 

Seeing himself in orange and blue was strange for the LSU alum at first, but he’s grown to enjoy Florida and the volume of top-notch recruits in the state. 

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“I didn’t realize it until I got here, this is the top school in Florida with the alumni and the pedigree of the school,” he said. 

Raymond said its not just about the secondary playing well, it’s about learning their respective positions. 

“It’s going to take a little bit of time because I’m not the easiest on the field,” he said. “It’s demanding because you play a position that’s easy to line up, but it’s a lot of little things you have to do," he said.

Off the field, Raymond added that, to be successful, coaches must care about the players and understand they are men just like everyone else. 

He said this attitude leads to increased production on the field. 

“Life is not easy, and it’s all about preparing them for life after football,” he said. “Where are you going to be after football, as a man? How are you going to move on and pay your bills?” 

Gators cornerbacks Jason Marshall Jr. (3) and Jaydon Hill (23) line up during spring practice at the University of Florida in Gainesville, on Tuesday, March 22, 2022.

On the practice field, Raymond has witnessed developments to redshirt junior Jaydon Hill and redshirt sophomore Jalen Kimber. 

“Kimber had that injury, but he’s doing well. He’s been in this system before and knows what he’s doing,” he said. “Jaydon Hill is getting better as well, and he has a chance to be good.” 

Spring practice continues Saturday for the Gators in advance of the Orange & Blue game at 7:30 p.m. April 14.