February 2, 2011

Muschamp completes coaching staff

At Wednesday's National Signing Day press conference, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp announced one of the biggest gets of the day, the hire of Derek Lewis as the new tight ends coach.

With Lewis taking over tight ends, current tight ends coach Brian White will assume duties as the running backs coach and wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill will take over as recruiting coordinator.

"It's a really good staff," Muschamp said. "It's guys that know what they're doing and know how to get guys going to the next level if that's what they want to do."

Lewis comes to Florida after a four-year stint coaching tight ends at Minnesota, where his tight ends were a big part of the Gopher offense. In 2009, he helped coach Nick Tow-Arnett to All-Big Ten honors.

As a player, he was an All-Big 12 tight end at Texas, where he played from 1995-98. Gators fans will remember him best for his 61-yard reception on 4th-and-inches in the 1996 Big 12 Championship Game. The catch helped the Longhorns seal the win against Nebraska, catapulting Florida to its first ever national championship game.

After his career at Texas, Lewis spent two years with the St. Louis Rams, winning a Super Bowl with them in 1999.

With his addition to the coaching staff, the Florida coaching staff can boast six Super Bowl rings. Offensive Charlie Weis has won four Super Bowl rings as a coach, while defensive line coach Bryant Young and Lewis have each won one as a player.

"I think as a student-athlete looking at the University of Florida, [NFL experience] is a huge bonus," Muschamp said.

Lewis, a New Orleans native, began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Texas from 2005-06. He then spent a month coaching defensive ends at North Texas before moving to Minnesota to take the tight ends job.

"He's a very charismatic, passionate guy about his job," Muschamp said. "He's helped the Gators before and we're looking forward to him helping us again ... [He's] a guy that I feel like, as far as his expertise in his area, is very good."

Muschamp said that Lewis is comfortable recruiting the state of Florida, something that was a key factor in his hire.

Meanwhile, White's move to running backs coach also brings more experience to the Florida coaching staff as a whole. His biggest accomplishments as a coach have come while coaching running backs.

He spent 11 years coaching running backs at Wisconsin from 1995-2006. He coached Heisman winner Ron Dayne, the all-time leading rusher in FBS history with more than 6,000 yards in his career.

"That's a pretty good pedigree for what he's done at the running back position," Muschamp said of White's time at Wisconsin.

White had four running backs drafted in the NFL while he was at Wisconsin, including two taken in the first round.

With Lewis' addition and White's move to running backs, Florida's coaching staff is now complete.

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