University of Florida

Former Hurricanes head coach named Gators defensive coordinator


After two years as Florida’s linebackers coach and calling a sound defensive game during UF’s 30-3 Outback Bowl win against Iowa to close the season, Randy Shannon — the former University of Miami head coach — has been promoted to the Gators’ full-time defensive coordinator position, UF announced Friday.

Shannon, 50, served as the interim defensive coordinator for the bowl game after Geoff Collins left to become the head coach at Temple.

“I appreciate the opportunity Coach Mac [Jim McElwain] has given me to be the defensive coordinator at the University of Florida,” Shannon said in a release. “We will continue to work together as we have the past two years to put together a plan so our players are in a position to be successful in football and in life.”

The Gators were successful in his first game calling the defense. Florida held Iowa to just 226 yards of offense — including a season-low-tying 55 passing yards — and forced three fourth-quarter interceptions to seal the game.

And Florida did it with six defensive starters — including all three of its top linebackers — sitting out the game with injuries.

Overall, Florida finished the season ranked fifth in total defense (292.8 yards allowed/game) and sixth in scoring defense (16.8 points allowed/game).

“Coach Shannon has been a big part of our success over the last two years. It’s been really cool to watch him handle his business,” McElwain said in a release. “He really connects with our players, and they have a lot of respect for him. More than being a great coach, he is a great mentor and teacher to these young men, and that is one of our greatest measuring sticks as coaches.”

Prior to his tenure at UF, which began with the 2015 season, Shannon also served two stints with the University of Miami, the first as a position coach from 1992 to 1997 and the second as defensive coordinator (2001 to 2006) and then head coach (2007 to 2010). He has also had stops at TCU (2012, linebackers coach), Arkansas (2013-14, linebackers coach) and the Miami Dolphins (1998-2006, the last six years as the defensive coordinator).

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

He also had 22 players that he has 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.

There’s potential to add up to four more to that list this season in cornerbacks Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson, linebacker Jarrad Davis and defensive lineman Caleb Brantley, all of whom have been projected to go anywhere in the first two rounds.