University of Florida

Randy Shannon will be UF’s interim defensive coordinator. Could the move be permanent?

Randy Shannon, the former head coach at Miami who with 25 years of coaching experience, will serve as the Florida Gators’ interim defensive coordinator for the Outback Bowl. From there, head coach Jim McElwain will make a decision on how to fill the position full time.
Randy Shannon, the former head coach at Miami who with 25 years of coaching experience, will serve as the Florida Gators’ interim defensive coordinator for the Outback Bowl. From there, head coach Jim McElwain will make a decision on how to fill the position full time. Miami Herald

With UF defensive coordinator Geoff Collins in Philadelphia after accepting the head coaching job at Temple last week, linebackers coach Randy Shannon is serving as the interim coordinator position for No. 20 Florida’s matchup with No. 21 Iowa in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 2.

His players are vouching for him to get the position full time after the season ends.

“Just check his resume out,” safety Marcell Harris said.

Here’s a snapshot of it:

▪ 25 years of coaching experience, a dozen as either a coordinator, co-coordinator or head coach at the college level.

▪ Two stints with the University of Miami, the first as a position coach from 1992-1997 and the second as defensive coordinator (2001-2006) and then head coach (2007-2010).

▪ Eight top-10 defenses at three schools since 2001, including both seasons so far at UF. The Hurricanes won the 2001 national title in large part behind Shannon’s defense, a group that forced 27 interceptions and 45 total turnovers while allowing an average of just 9.4 points per game.

▪ 22 players coached who were drafted in either the first or second round of the NFL draft, 12 of whom came during his second stint at UM. Among the notable names he’s coached are linebackers Ray Lewis and Jonathan Vilma, defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, and safeties Sean Taylor and Ed Reed.

UF coach Jim McElwain on Monday said Shannon is “absolutely” a candidate for the full-time defensive coordinator position but added a decision would not be made until after the bowl game.

Regardless, the second-year UF head coach said having continuity defense along with an increased recruiting presence are essential considering the Gators could lose up to eight starters on that side of the ball to the NFL draft.

“I’m excited for them,” McElwain said. “They’ve been doing a good job with what we’ve been doing. Obviously, Randy’s more than qualified for that position.”

Most UF players know what Shannon has accomplished in the past.

But it’s what he’s done in the present that makes them appreciate him even more.

Beyond what he does to get them prepared on the football field, the Gators have respected the way he’s helped them off the field as well.

“Talk about what he does for us,” All-American cornerback Jalen Tabor said. “He’s just great at what he does. We all respect him. We all love him and everything.”

Shannon has played an instrumental role in helping the Gators post top-10 defensive finishes each of the last two years.

And this season, he’s done so with a depleted linebacker group down the stretch. Redshirt junior Alex Anzalone has missed the last four games after undergoing arm surgery, and senior Jarrad Davis has played in one game since over that span.

True freshmen David Reese and Vosean Joseph as well as redshirt freshmen Kylan Johnson have taken the bulk of the reps in the veterans’ absence.

Even with the lack of depth in the middle of the defense over the past month, the Gators still rank fifth in the Southeastern Conference in rushing defense (142 yards allowed/game) and fourth in the conference in yards allowed per rush (3.81)

“I trust [Shannon],” Johnson said, “and I think he’s the guy for us.”

Shannon will be the guy for the next two weeks. After that, it’s up to McElwain.

“He’s a great coach, great guy, great mentor,” defensive lineman Joey Ivie said of Shannon. “I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, but I think he’s a great guy. Everyone on the team, everyone on the defense, enjoys being coached by him. He’s definitely, to me, the guy for it.”

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