Florida’s new special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach Jeff Choate meet with the UF media for the first time Wednesday.
Choate will hit the road on May 1 to start evaluating prospects.
Like the other assistants on staff, his primary focus is going to be the state of Florida and Southeast region of the United States. But he will also be responsible for some of the areas Bryant Young recruited as well as the state of Texas, where he’s had success in the past.
“I’m sure there’s going to be some kind of trading out of where coach Young was at and where I’m going to end up,” Choate said. “It’s going to be recruit Florida first, the Southeast second and then I’ll have the opportunity to tap into some of my contacts in the greater Houston area and potentially even if there’s a kid that fits our needs, maybe in northern California.”
UF coach Will Muschamp welcomes Choate’s track record in Texas, but he said prospects usually don’t leave that state or region unless they fit in at Florida.
“Each coach has a little bit of tie to different areas that they’ve been exposed to. We certainly embrace that,” Muschamp said. “But at the end of the day it’s the student-athlete normally in most situations and their connections to the state of Florida or the University of Florida or their genuine interest in the University of Florida. … We’re going to nationally recruit players that fit what we’re looking for academically, athletically, socially and spiritually as far as being a student athlete at the University of Florida.”
Choate hasn’t recruited the Southeast much, but he knows what it takes to get the job done.
“I’ve had the opportunity to get in here a little bit. Not a lot,” Choate said. “The bottom line about recruiting is it’s about developing relationships and treating people correctly. And being honest and up front whether you are dealing with a high school coach, a parent, a student-athlete. I don’t think recruiting is any different anywhere you go. The stakes may be a little bit higher in some situations than others, but it’s always about developing open relationships.”
Aside from finding prospects who fit in with the program and building bonds with them, being able to evaluate is another critical factor in recruiting.
Muschamp noticed Choate had an eye for talent a few years ago when the two recruited the same areas. Choate was at Boise State and Muschamp coordinated Texas’ defense.
“You cross check the people you trust as far as the evaluation process is concerned and I learned then he was a very good evaluator,” Muschamp said.
Did Choate beat him for any prospects?
“No,” Muschamp said. “He may tell you different but I don’t think so.”