Craig Stephens

Florida Snags UTEP Defensive Coordinator

Created on Apr. 26, 2013 1:19 AM EST

Just a few short months ago, Jeff Choate finally got his own defense. He had accepted the defensive coordinator job at UTEP after spending time coaching linebackers at Washington State and six seasons at Boise State. It was the most prestigious title Choate had received in Division I football.

Then, Florida called.

Choate packed his bags and left the best job he’s ever had without seeing his defense play a single game.

When defensive line coach Bryant Young left the Florida coaching staff, Will Muschamp had a job opening. He saw an opportunity to find a coach that could work with the defense and take over special teams. Muschamp’s search ended with the recently-hired Choate, who will coach linebackers as well as special teams.

Normally, a coach doesn’t leave a job he just started. Normally, an assistant getting his first opportunity as a coordinator doesn’t leave to coach special teams. When Muschamp was asked if he was concerned that Choate had only accepted the UTEP job a few months earlier, he said, “No. This is Florida.”

The special teams had been coached by committee, with all members of the staff pitching in. Now, the special teams will be under the direct control of Choate, with influence from defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin.

Choate was interviewed after the hiring, and asked many questions regarding scheme. Since he joined Florida after spring practice, he did not project implementing any new schemes before the season. Choate will run with the plans already in place. He did comment on a few players, calling Loucheiz Purifoy a great gunner and referring to the solid play of punter Kyle Christy. He did not seem too concerned about the transition from UTEP, or the fact that he was coming to Florida later in the offseason. He came across as just happy to be at Florida. It’s understandable because it is Choate’s first job at a big-time program.

It is a good fit for Choate. Taking a job in the SEC is always a promotion, regardless of title. It is also a good fit for Florida. Choate was known as quality special teams coach while at WSU, in addition to the work that he did with the linebackers. A self-described “high energy” guy, Choate will fit in perfectly with Muschamp’s in-your-face style of coaching. 

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