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Why Lane Kiffin thinks Florida Gators’ Billy Napier will do well at UF

Kiffin and Napier worked together at Alabama and are now SEC coaching colleagues.
Lane Kiffin worked with first-year Florida Gators coach Billy Napier at Alabama.
Lane Kiffin worked with first-year Florida Gators coach Billy Napier at Alabama. [ THOMAS GRANING | AP ]
Published Jun. 1

DESTIN — Billy Napier will do “really well” as the Florida Gators coach, according to someone who knows Napier and the SEC well: Mississippi coach Lane Kiffin.

Kiffin and Napier worked together under Nick Saban at Alabama from 2014-16; Kiffin was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach while Napier coached the receivers. Napier left an impression.

Related: 3 takeaways on Florida Gators coach Billy Napier’s SEC meetings news conference

“Really smart,” Kiffin said Tuesday during the SEC spring meetings at the Hilton Sandestin. “Organized. Super detailed, and a great recruiter, too.”

Napier’s reputation as a recruiter is one of the reasons why the Gators hired him to replace Dan Mullen. Napier was one of the assistants credited with signing five-star receivers Jerry Jeudy and Calvin Ridley from south Florida to the Crimson Tide. Both of them, along with Amari Cooper, blossomed into first-round picks.

The key to Napier’s recruiting success?

“Relationships,” Kiffin said. “Just spending a ton of time with the kids, the coaches, the family members. Just really, really poured in them and did a great job.”

Napier credits his time at Alabama as a pivotal point in his career path, and he structures the football program after what Saban has done there.

Related: Eliah Drinkwitz: No beef with former Florida Gators coach Dan Mullen

“I certainly wouldn’t be standing here without him,” Napier said.

The SEC meetings will continue today with more conversations with football coaches and administrators. Check back later for more.

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