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Florida Gators Assistant Coach Profiles: Who is Mike Peterson?

Florida Gators head coach Billy Napier is building an army, but that lies not only within his robust support staff, but with his assistant coaches as well.

Photo: Mike Peterson; Credit: Alex Shepherd

When Florida Gators head coach Billy Napier was introduced as the team's next head coach, he promised the Gator Nation an "army" when describing his incoming coaching staff.

The staff would consist of assistants who have gotten recognition around the college football world as some of the best in the game.

"We're going to hire an army of people here," Napier said on Dec. 5 last year. "We're going to create an infrastructure not only in the personnel department but also from an on-campus recruiting, creative media, name, image and likeness. We're going to create -- we've got a great vision for the organization that we're going to create here."

Napier, of course, was referring not only to the assistant coaches that he would eventually lock-in but also to the enormous support staff - comprised of 48 individuals that were eventually brought on to help build out the staff.

With that said, over the next couple of weeks, we at AllGators will be releasing profiles to get to know each assistant coach, including their background, recruiting history, quotes and more.

Next up, is Gator Great and current outside linebackers coach Mike Peterson who almost needs no introduction.

Background info:

Peterson, 45, played linebacker for Florida from 1995-98. He was also a member of the 1996 Florida team that finished 12-1, winning the national championship over Florida State. He started 24 games, posting 249 tackles, three forced fumbles, 13 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks.

He was named a "Gator Great" in 2011, inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame. 

After his collegiate career, Peterson would be drafted in the second round of the 1999 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. He'd play just four years there before leaving for the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency during the prime of his career. He was named Second-team All-Pro in 2005.

He'd finish his NFL career after 14 seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, playing for the franchise from 2009-12.

Peterson quickly jumped into coaching, joining Florida for the first time in 2013 as a student assistant while he earned his undergrad degree. He would then be promoted to the team's strength and conditioning coach, staying in that role from 2014-15.

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After spending one year on a new head coach, Jim McElwain's staff at Florida, Peterson would follow his former HC, Will Muschamp to South Carolina, becoming the program's outside linebackers coach from 2016-21, working under Muschamp and current SC HC Shane Beamer.

Now, he returns in that same role to the place where it all began.

Recruiting history:

Peterson is another coach on Napier's staff that doesn't have an extensive history in the recruiting realm as a primary or secondary recruiter, but he does bring a pedigree not many can as a former NFL player. Peterson is expected to be one of the major recruiters at Florida, already in on several prospects for next year's class.

At South Carolina, however, Peterson did play a role in landing five-star recruit, defensive end Jordan Burch, who was graded as the No. 8 ranked player nationally, according to 247Sports Composite.   

Peterson also helped bring in DE Brad Johnson, who experienced somewhat of a breakout year last season at SC, notching 74 total tackles, four tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.

Along with recruits, Peterson played a role in bringing two players to the NFL, including DE Kingsley Enagbare (Green Bay Packers, Round 5, 2022) and LB D.J. Wonnum (Minnesota Vikings, Round 4, 2020).

How it's going:

In just a short time, Peterson has already had an intriguing affect on the Gators' recruiting efforts, responsible for helping land 2022 recruit, DL Andrew Saviinaea out of Washington.

Peterson is also playing a major role in the program's attempt to land Jones (Fla.) LB Malik Bryant, who is currently rated as the No. 2 LB in the country, and the No. 9 player in the state of Florida. Bryant is expected to announce his commitment to a program on July 23.

Quotable:

"Mike is a fantastic coach. Every one of his profession knows and respects Mike for his ability to get his players to play well, and the relationships he has with his players. Certainly his pedigree as a former great not only at the university but in the National Football League. He’s a great teammate and he’s invaluable because his knowledge of this place and the things that come with the University of Florida. We’re excited about Mike and leadership and how it will impact the team.” - Napier on Peterson.

Stay tuned to AllGators for continuous coverage of Florida Gators football, basketball and recruiting. Follow along on social media at @SI_AllGators on Twitter and Florida Gators on Sports Illustrated on Facebook.