When he's not focusing on the Sun Belt title game, Billy Napier has his attention fixated on his next gig as the Florida Gators' head coach.
The first task on his to-do list is to put together a coaching staff, which Napier has surely begun the process of. However, four days after his hiring was made official, Napier has yet to knock over the first domino that is employing assistants.
The suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.
While Napier continues to assess his options, we are too. We've already analyzed 15 candidates to fill the roles of offensive and defensive coordinator, but let's take it a step further.
Napier is making the jump from a Group of 5 program to one of the most prestigious universities and college football teams in history. He can afford to swing for the fences as he puts together a staff, so, let's take a look at three coaches that would be considered home-run hires if Napier can manage to get them on board.
Donté Williams, USC CBs/interim HC
Donté Williams filled in as the Trojans' interim head coach after Clay Helton was fired two games into the season and has led Southern Cal to a 3-5 record since. Previously, Williams was the team's cornerbacks coach and defensive passing game coordinator.
According to 247Sports' recruiter rankings, Williams stands at No. 165 in the 2022 cycle (out of 640 coaches). In fairness, USC's recruiting class is in shambles as a result of Helton's early firing, although Williams is credited for the top two commits in the class of four - Fabian Ross and Devan Thompkins. In the previous class, Williams helped land the nation's No. 2 prospect in Korey Foreman and fellow top recruits Raesjon Davis, Ceyair Wright, and Julien Simon.
In 2021, Williams earned the No. 3 ranking, after finishing No. 6 in his first year on the job in 2020. He rose No. 61 in 2019 in his second season as the Oregon Ducks cornerbacks coach from No. 571 in 2018, only landing one commit during his first year on the job.
On-field results could have been better for Williams during his time at USC, as the Trojans' pass defense peaked at No. 43 with his assistance as cornerbacks coach in 2020. But there is no denying that Williams helped bring in talent, and (former Florida) cornerback Chris Steele Jr. will likely be drafted this or next year after developing under Williams.
With Lincoln Riley taking over as USC's head coach, Alex Grinch is expected to tag along to Los Angeles and figures to bring his own staff as well. That could result in Williams becoming a free agent, and considering his recruiting résumé, Napier and Florida would most likely be interested in his services.
Ja'Juan Seider, Penn State RBs
A reunion! Ja'Juan Seider spent one season with the Gators in 2017 and made a name for himself as a strong recruiter, helping land the likes of future No. 4 overall NFL Draft pick Kyle Pitts, Dameon Pierce, Justin Watkins, Iverson Clement, Dante Zanders, and Ja'Markis Weston in his lone year on the job. He laid the groundwork for UF to land Andrew Chatfield in the next class, too.
Seider is the No. 14 recruiter in the country this year with four commits under his belt at Penn State. He was unranked as a recruiter the year before, No. 93 for the 2020 class, No. 8 in 2019, and No. 40 in his transition class in 2018. Interestingly, Seider earned a Nittany Lions' commitment from 2020 linebacker Derek Wingo before his flip to Florida.
At Penn State, Seider coached Miles Sanders in 2018, a year in which the junior running back posted career-highs while replacing Saquon Barkley. Sanders was selected in the second round in the 2019 NFL Draft. The next year, Journey Brown, Sanders' replacement, scored 12 touchdowns on the ground before a medical retirement. Noah Cain scored eight touchdowns in addition to Brown's production that year.
During his short stint at Florida. Seider's position group produced two 500+ yard rushers in La'Mical Perine and Malik Davis - Davis' 526 yards mark his career-high acrossdont five seasons at UF, and the freshman campaign came to a halt due to a season-ending injury seven games into the year. The Gators' running backs combined for 13 touchdowns that season.
Seider intended to stick around at UF when Dan Mullen was hired as head coach in late 2017, however, the two couldn't agree upon what position Seider would coach, which led to a parting of ways. With a new staff on the way, Seider could be in play to return to Gainesville and his home state of Florida.
Brent Venables, Clemson DC
Brent Venables is the highest-paid assistant coach in college football right now, making $2.5 million a year. Venables' buyout, just like when he signed an extension of similar value in 2018, is 25 percent of the sum total of his remaining deal should he accept an assistant role elsewhere. Venables would owe Clemson nothing if he took a head coaching gig at another school.
Venables makes this much money for a reason, in fact, for several reasons. Not only does Clemson regularly own one of the best defenses in college football, but Venables is an ace recruiter as well. He's the No. 9 assistant coach in the country for the 2022 cycle after finishing No. 33, No. 51, and No. 27 in the previous three classes.
On the field, Venables' Tiger defense ranks No. 2 in the country in scoring and No. 9 in yardage this season, the fifth time in the last six years that the unit has ranked top-ten nationally in both categories. The unit hasn't dropped out of the top-18 in either category in that span.
Venables has widely been floated for the head coach opening at Oklahoma, which is sensical as he coached there as a coordinator/assistant from 1999-2011. However, if Venables doesn't take that job - which isn't a guarantee as our sister site All Clemson reports that he is continuing to recruit alongside Dabo Swinney amid the speculation - Napier should at least give him a ring.
Keep in mind, Todd Grantham made $1.8 million a year as Florida's defensive coordinator under Dan Mullen. With the expectation that football spending will increase under Napier, Venables' salary isn't that far out of reach.
Poaching Venables from Clemson for the same job at Florida would shake up the entire college football landscape, and is the least likely possibility on this list as a result. That doesn't mean Napier shouldn't at least try, though.
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