Exactly a week after Bryant Young abruptly and unexpectedly left the Florida coaching staff, head coach Will Muschamp has reportedly found a replacement.
Following up on speculation over the past 24 hours or so, the Gators announced via a press release Wednesday morning that Jeff Choate has left UTEP for a job with the Gators. Choate was just hired as the Miners’ defensive coordinator this past January.
At UF, Choate will coach outside linebackers and serve as special teams coordinator.
“We are excited to have Jeff Choate join our staff,” said Muschamp. “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.
Young, who left the program for personal reasons, had served as a defensive line coach since Muschamp took over at UF in 2011.
Prior to one season as linebackers coach at Washington State in 2012, Choate had spent six seasons at Boise State. Also on that Broncos staff was Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease.
“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.
“I would also like to thank everyone at UTEP, and most importantly Coach Kugler, for the support and opportunity they gave me. I wish him and the program nothing but the best of luck.”
Choate, who was a candidate for the Idaho head-coaching vacancy last year, becomes the second assistant (kind of) first-year UTEP head coach Sean Kugler has lost to an SEC team in less than three months. In late January, special teams coordinator Jeff Banks left for the same job at Texas A&M — after a very brief pit stop at Virginia.