The Florida Gators are expected to announce the hiring West Virginia Mountaineers running backs and tight ends coach Ja’Juan Seider as an assistant in the coming days, according to a report from Mike Huguenin of Gridiron Now.
Huguenin reports that Seider would likely come on in the same role, with Tim Skipper moving to linebackers coach.
Sources tell GN that Seider – a Belle Glade, Fla., native who has been at WVU for four seasons – seems likely to assume that same role at Florida, with current running back coach Tim Skipper moving to defense in some capacity. Skipper was a college linebacker and has spent much of his coaching career as a linebacker coach.
Several other reports have followed Huguenin’s. Football Scoop confirmed the Seider hire is expected, and added that Florida is expected to also hire an offensive line coach soon. Bob Redman of Scout’s Florida site also reports that the hire of Seider is likely, “barring a last minute contract snag” that he writes is related to Seider’s buyout.
Charleston Gazette-Mail reporter Mike Casazza also reported Seider’s impending departure from West Virginia, and explained the buyout snag on Twitter.
Note on Seider: One year, $340k left on contract...and a liquidated damages clause for 25 percent of his salary. That's an $85k buyout.— Mike Casazza (@mikecasazza) February 2, 2017
And Fox Sports writer Bruce Feldman simply confirmed the report that Seider is leaving West Virginia for Florida, becoming the biggest national voice to confirm it.
Seider attended West Virginia in the 1990s, but completed his college football career at Florida A&M, notably winning the Doug Williams Offensive Player of the Year Award — given to the nation’s best offensive player at a historically black college or university — while playing quarterback for the Rattlers under legendary coach Billy Joe in 1999 before being selected in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers.
Seider is also known first and foremost as a recruiter, and is about as connected as a coach can be in Palm Beach County. He grew up in Belle Glade, and attended powerhouse Glades Central, where he coached briefly in the early 2000s before moving on to Palm Beach Lakes and Lake Worth High Schools.
From there, he went back to West Virginia as a graduate assistant under Urban Meyer-era Florida safeties coach and recruiting coordinator Doc Holliday, and followed Holliday to Marshall as running backs coach and recruiting coordinato before returning to West Virginia to work under Dana Holgorsen in those same roles.
And while he has drawn talented players from the Sunshine State en masse to the Mountaineer State, Seider hasn’t just mined his native Palm Beach County. Seider pulled players from a hit list of Miami-Dade — Booker T. Washington, Miramar, Northwestern — and Broward County schools — St. Thomas Aquinas, Pompano Beach Ely, and Deerfield Beach — to West Virginia, and was responsible for a slew of South Florida players picking Marshall.
Most notably, Seider recruited Rakeem Cato to Marshall from Miami Central, and was instrumental in helping West Virginia land Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey, both of Miramar, as a graduate assistant. Cato went on to rewrite a Marshall record book that Chad Pennington had inked his name in, partly thanks to Randy Moss, while Smith and Bailey teamed with Tavon Austin to help make Holgorsen’s Mountaineers offenses explosive in the early 2010s.
(It should be noted that a major component of West Virginia and Marshall landing a disproportionate number of recruits from South Florida — not just under Seider, but for years and years — is the reputedly more lax academic standards at those schools, which often pop up late in recruitments after more prominent programs pass on pursuing players thanks to unflattering transcripts.)
Still, Seider is on a very short list of college football assistants thought of as ace recruiters for the whole South Florida region, and is on a similarly short list of coaches whose names hold almost mythic value on message boards as potential hires that can unlock a new level of recruiting. Florida hiring Mike Locksley away from Alabama would have been seen as a coup; Florida hiring Seider away from West Virginia would be less of a blow to a rival, but potentially even more helpful in Sunshine State recruiting.
After all, Seider has never recruited to a school in his home state before.
Florida’s long-standing plan to bring in Locksley fell apart after reports of his hire broke around the New Year’s weekend, with both the Gators and Crimson Tide still yet to finish their seasons. Locksley eventually stayed with Alabama and got a promotion to co-offensive coordinator for his trouble, and Gators fans who were burned by that near-miss may be incensed if another occurs.
But Florida not hiring an assistant in January — and vexing many of those same fans, who fretted about Florida keeping pace with other programs while sending interim linebackers coach Mark DeBastiani and director of player personnel Drew Hughes on the trail — suggests that the Gators may have had replacements for the departed Geoff Collins and Mike Summers in mind, and have been waiting until after National Signing Day to formally hire them.
If Seider is one of those replacements, that plan will have paid off with a quality coach and a dynamite recruiter.