Parental Perspective: Napier Meet & Greet with Player Parents I

Feb 13, 2022 | 0 comments

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On Saturday Florida's new football staff hosted the parents of multiple players for what was termed a 'meet and greet' but what was described by one parent as a junior day type of setup where the parents had an opportunity to not only get to know the new coaches but get a glimpse into what they have in store for their sons as well.

In December during bowl prep, Billy Napier began alerting family members that there would be an event for the parents of Florida football players after National Signing Day, when the entire new staff was in place.

The event began at 12:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon and ended at 6:30 p.m. after a meal in the Indoor Practice Facility.

The parents were broken down into three groups and then each group started on the presentations.

  • Introduction
  • Weight room
  • Training/Nutritionist
  • Head Coach Presentation and Q&A
  • Position Coach Presentation and Q&A
  • Gator Made/NIL
  • Dinner

Some coaches had family members in attendance, others didn’t because some still aren't in town yet as they are in the process of moving to Gainesville.

Inside the Gators spoke to multiple parents about the event and will share their stories over the next couple of days.

Offensive Guard Joshua Braun's father Mike Braun

Q: What was the setup like?
A: It was like a junior day, but with a great meal at the end. It was a standard recruiting event – which means a lot – because they don’t have to do this. When we went through a transition like this at another school [Braun has had multiple sons play DI football] they did not do this. That meant the parent and player had to do their own research. This cleared up any misgivings or miscommunication. I think it gave parents confidence that the players that are here are still a priority.

Q: Did they break it down by position, where those coaches ate with those families at their position?
A: Well, we tried to match to a connection, so we ate with Jay Bateman, who coached at Army and knew some of my classmates, who worked there at the same time. Coach [Rob] Sale came by and talked.

Q: The players have been making a big deal on social media about better food and parking since the coaching change. What are your thoughts on improvements such as those?
A: Everything has been very positive. I was encouraged by yesterday.

Q: Were there any interactions with support staff today as well?
A: Yes. There were great talks with a bunch of them. I'm very confident that things will be handled professionally going forward.

Q: Obviously, your son signed with Florida with a different staff in place. With there being one 'free' transfer nowadays, were there any thoughts to him leaving?
A: Honestly, we talked about all opportunities that this gave him. These things give you the freedom to evaluate. This is a healthy part of life, Transition, and change. I wanted him to be an adult about it and develop a plan for his future. He came back and said he was happy at Florida and he wanted to use the time he had left to get his Ph.D.

He has three seasons left because of COVID-19, so he met with staff, both academic and football, and talked over a plan to maximize both. I think he is confident that there is a great opportunity to grow in both arenas for the future. The best part of the transfer portal is that it gives players the opportunity to think and act in their best interest and maximize what they do with the gifts they have.

Q: What is your initial impression of Coach Napier?
A: I like him. He's quiet, focused, and very organized. I played for a quiet organized head coach.

Q: What is your initial impression of your son's position coach, Rob Sale?
A: Coach Sale is a good man and a good coach. I met him a few years ago when he recruited Parker [Mike’s son Parker Braun played offensive line at Georgia Tech and Texas].

Q: Do you see or feel, or does your son talk about any differences here in the first two months under Napier?
A: Yes, it's been very positive, but it’s still very early.

Q: What stood out the most about today?
A: How badly they need the new facility to be completed and opened. I have been in that weight room at least 10 times in 15 years for clinics/junior days/unofficial & official visits. While the coaches and staff are great, it is definitely time for an upgrade.

Quarterback Carlos Del Rio's father Carlos Del Rio

Q: What was your impression of Carlos’ new position coach?
A: The quarterback coach – Ryan O'Hara – was very friendly and engaging and he seems like a very nice guy. He was also very detail-oriented when it comes to his training.

Q: What are some of the changes you are most happy about under the new staff?
A: One thing that Billy did that definitely needed attention was the parking for the student-athletes. Before there was no parking for them and they constantly received tickets. Now they have parking near the facility. There is more attention to dietary needs for players when it comes to food and nutrition so the players seem to each get what they need daily as far as their diets.

Q: Obviously, your son signed with Florida with a different staff in place. With there being one 'free' transfer nowadays, were there any thoughts to him leaving?
A: As far as transferring, we wanted to wait and see how the new coach and staff received Carlos and just give it a chance and see how it goes. So far everything seems fine.

Q: What is your initial impression of Coach Napier?
A: Coach Billy seems like a coach who is not only trying to get things done on the field, but off the field also. He's paying close attention to a lot of things and I was very impressed with that. I can't wait to see how all this plays out in the field.

Offensive Guard Richie Leonard's mother Prishonda Leonard

Q: How did this all unfold for your family?
A: We knew sometime last month about it, giving us ample time to prepare to come. We all signed in and met in the Gator Room. It was very well organized. We were split up by colors-Orange/White/Blue. The Orange group consisted of offensive linemen and a quarterback.

Q: What was the schedule for the day?
A: There were presentations for each of the three groups – in a station format. All the groups started out with a strength & conditioning presentation from Coach [Mark] Hocke and his staff, then we split up by the color of the lanyard. We met with the Training Room Staff & Dieticians for their presentation.

Our next station was with Coach Napier, where he clearly identified his eight-step program and what each step meant. Coach Napier then opened up the floor to questions.

Our next station was with the position coaches, Coach [Rob] Sale & Coach [Darnell] Stapleton, who introduced themselves and their staff, gave out their contact info, and also opened the floor up for questions.

After all the stations were done we were bussed over to the Indoor Practice Facility for food, fun, and games.

Everyone ate and played games while the coaches mingled and worked the room meeting parents from different position groups.

It was very well organized. Everything went smooth and it was a good turnout and a positive event for the families to spend time with their child and all the new coaches.

Oh! This is minor, but while we were eating/socializing they also had a photo booth that printed out your pics for you right then. They also had all of the jerseys, so you could put your son’s jersey on for your picture. I thought that was a nice touch.

Buck David Reese’s mother Patricia Reese

Q: How did this all come about and what was the day like?
A: My first time hearing about today was when I went over to Tampa for the bowl game. Confirmation came a few weeks ago that it was for sure on February 12th. It was set up with rotations to different areas like the weight room, training room, etc… There was time for Q&As. We met with the position coach. It was productive.

At the end, for dinner, we sat at tables for positions coaches and had a great time with coaches and families. Some of the players were there, but not all of them. The turnout for the families and players was great. 

Q: What is your initial impression of Napier and new position coach Mike Peterson?
A: Coach Napier spoke and was very transparent. My initial impression of Coach Napier is that everyone deserves a chance to get anchored and prove himself. I was very impressed with Coach Peterson because he reached out to me before I met him yesterday. After meeting him in person, he seems to be a great guy. Every person deserves a chance without judgment. No matter what God is in control of everything and everyone. We had great interaction with the support staff.

Q: Obviously, your son signed with Florida with a different staff in place. With there being one 'free' transfer nowadays, were there any thoughts to him leaving?
A: He thought about leaving, but I don’t believe in jumping ship. The Lord told me that David was to stay and bloom where he’s planted. There was no need for him to transfer and I’m believing in God for a great turnaround and healthy season for my son.

Q: What was your main takeaway from the day?
A: I believe all the coaches and staff have the guys and their family's best interests at heart. They seem to be committed to family and that always wins my heart. The family environment and concern for parents' needs stood out big for me today. Teamwork makes any dream work.

Overall I enjoyed the day getting the chance to communicate with the people that did not recruit my son and get an understanding of what the plan is moving forward. I believe in the process.


As a side note, some parents didn't attend, but that shouldn't be cause for concern. Emory Jones' mother Trina Jones said that she had a chance to meet, and get to know, Napier back in December.

Jonathan Odom's parents, which of course includes former Florida lineman Jason Odom, already had a trip to Las Vegas scheduled.

Avery Helms' parents will stop by to visit with the coaches on Wednesday on their way to Orlando for a vacation.

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