TAMPA — Thursday was a busy day for Will Muschamp.
The third-year Florida football coach began the day in Atlanta with 29 other SEC coaches for the announcement of the new SEC Network. By evening, Muschamp had arrived in Tampa for his annual appearance before the Tampa and Pinellas County Gator clubs. He discussed a variety of subjects with the media just before his speech:
What kind of work do you put into your speech?
Well, most of it is just stuff I think about basically every day. But you know, I go through and take some notes and write some things down that I think are important, some things that have been an emphasis in the offseason, offensively, defensively and special teams. I try to put some thought into those ideas when you get in front of an audience. I think as much as anything I probably talk too much because really they want to ask questions.
This is a very important area. It's been historically a good area for Florida and other schools. So (tight ends coach) Derek Lewis had recruited this area before, and that was part of my evaluation of hiring him at Florida. He was a guy who had been in this area and was trusted in this area from these high school coaches. D.J. Durkin, I was able to retain (from Urban Meyer's staff), who recruited Pinellas County and that area, a guy that's done a fabulous job recruiting for us in our first three seasons. So those guys have done a great job of getting this area back to being where it needs to be for us as far as getting Florida Gators up to our campus.
How big of an offseason is this for Jeff Driskel?
It's huge. Not just from the standpoint of Jeff, but obviously the position of quarterback is key. Him continuing to grow and mature in the role, being the quarterback at the University of Florida. But again, I've been nothing but pleased to this point of how he's attacked the offseason mentally and how he's worked.
Does Vernon Hargreaves (Wharton High) have a chance to play as a freshman?
Absolutely. He has every opportunity in the world to step on the field. He's a guy that's very mature; obviously his father's a coach. But a guy that in the recruiting process was very driven, smart on and off the field, has all the physical capabilities to contribute immediately for us, and he'll determine that when we start camp Aug. 1.
You recently said the program is ascending. What did you mean?
Right now we're in a situation where we've built some confidence back in the program. We've recruited very well. I think we have a deeper team than we had certainly two years ago. So I think right now, as far as ascending, you've got a returning quarterback coming back, you've got an improved offensive line. I think we've improved ourselves in some other positions offensively. And defensively I think we're deep enough up front to make a run at this thing.
Line of the night
Gator fan: "No offense, Coach, but I hate the University of Georgia."
Muschamp (a former Bulldog): "I'm right there with you."