Florida has found the man to fill the vacancy on its coaching staff. Less than one week after UF coach Will Muschamp announced the opening would be filled by a special teams coach, the Gators announced Wednesday UTEP defensive coordinator Jeff Choate will take over the role.
"We are excited to have Jeff Choate join our staff," said Muschamp via a press release. "He is a high-energy coach, an outstanding recruiter and evaluator, and has a reputation as one of the top special-teams coaches in the nation. He has coached on both sides of the ball and was most recently a defensive coordinator. He sees the big picture and will be a great addition to our staff.
"I got to know Jeff several years ago when I as at Texas and he was at Boise State. He visited Austin and we spent a lot of time talking defensive and special teams schemes. He also visited us in Gainesville last spring and we are very much on the same page philosophically."
The news was first reported late Tuesday night by the El Paso Times, which credited "sources at UTEP" for the news. Choate has yet to coach a game for the Miners, taking the job as defensive coordinator on January 8 as one of the first staff members under new coach Sean Kugler.
Reports were confirmed by UF Wednesday.
"I'm excited about the opportunity to join the Gator staff and have the chance to compete at the highest level," said Choate. "I've gotten to know Coach Muschamp over the past couple of years and have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a coach and a person. I'm looking forward to continuing the great special-teams tradition that has been established here and can't wait to get to work.
From 2006-11, Choate worked as a special teams coordinator at Boise State while also coaching running backs (2006-08), linebackers (2009) and nickelbacks (2010-11). Last year he coached linebackers at Washington State.
Florida's special teams were set to be coached under a "committee" approach after former coordinator D.J. Durkin was promoted to defensive coordinator in January.
After a spring of watching kickers struggle, Muschamp went with a coach who worked with Kyle Brotzman - the highest-scoring kicker in NCAA history - at Boise State.
In an official statement released during his hire at UTEP, Kugler referred to Choate as "the epitome of an energizer bunny."
Choate was scheduled to make $190,000 at UTEP this season. Durkin made $340,000 per year as Florida's special teams coach.