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August 3, 2012
Aubrey Hill's name has been dropped in headlines and stories all over the country since the NCAA first began investigating Miami for various recruiting violations. The former Hurricanes assistant and most recent Gators wide receivers coach was linked to a number of the issues reported at Miami. Friday morning it was announced he has resigned from his duties at UF. With that in mind, Inside the Gators takes a look at how all of this factors in for Florida going forward.
HOW IT CAME ABOUT: Hill was touted as a true Florida name when he was brought to the Gators in 2011 after a few years as a wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Miami. He was given the same position for the Gators but it did not take long for the stories to circulate. When Yahoo! Sports broke UM recruiting violations via infamous booster Nevin Shapiro, Hill's name consistently popped up in reports [Related: Hill named in Miami allegations | Wrong doing continued under Golden, Hill named once again]. During the 2011 season, Florida played it off. But when Charlie Weis left and new offensive coordinator Brent Pease stepped in, issues became more than Miami. A former receivers coach himself, Pease was not happy with the crop of wide receivers he found in Gainesville or the shape they were in fundamentally when he arrived. He commented on his feelings toward the receivers a number of times during spring camp and took a very hands-on role in coaching them. Pease began working extensively with receivers and taking a large role in positional meetings. At Friday Night Lights, he kept a close eye on Hill's groups. Then Friday morning, news broke that Hill would be leaving Florida for "personal reasons."
WHAT IT MEANS FOR 2012: Hill was well-known for his connections in South Florida and ability to recruit the area. His name regularly comes up when recruits are asked which coach on Florida's staff they are closest to. But as a coach, he was often criticized for lacking an ability to truly develop players. Only one Florida receiver caught 20 or more passes in 2011 and the team's top-two receivers were a running back and a tight end. Florida will now look to Pease and offensive graduate assistant Bush Hamdan to work with receivers in 2012. Half of that probably isn't much different from what would have happened whether or not Hill left. Pease enjoys working closely with the wide receivers, and he likely would have crossed paths a little too often with Hill had Hill stayed on this year. Hamdan is a former backup Boise State quarterback who is in his first year at Florida.
ALONG THE RECRUITING TRAIL: With six months to go until Signing Day, if there is any damage done with the current wide out commits or the south Florida kids Hill was responsible for as the area recruiter, there is more than enough time to do some damage control. As for the wide receivers specifically, for the most part, other than Rodney Adams, they all came out as being still firmly committed to the Gators [Related: Only one is wavering]. Where his absence might be felt is in the overall process going forward. While Will Muschamp named replacements for Hill from an on-the-field coaching standpoint, in the press release, no mention was made of who is replacing Hill as Florida's Recruiting Coordinator. With the Class of 2013 all but wrapped up, how does his departure impact the recruiting efforts for the Class of 2014 and beyond is a question that needs to be answered.
LOOKING AHEAD: Muschamp will meet with the media Friday evening and likely stay away from making any definitive statements about today's news. He has said in a statement he will not bring on a permanent replacement for Hill until December. It wouldn't be surprising to see Muschamp dip back into the pool of former Gators when looking to fill the spot. Former UF wide receiver Wes Chandler is currently the wide receivers coach at California, and mid-1990s standout Jacquez Green is a high school offensive coordinator in Tallahassee who is still very well-connected at Florida. Also, don't rule out the possibility of Pease returning to his comfort zone at handling wide receivers and looking elsewhere for a new quarterbacks coach.