Best of luck to Keary Colbert in the NFL. (Photo credit: Isabella Marley, UAA Communications)
The NFL continues to raid the Florida Gators coaching staff.
This time, it’s the Denver Broncos who are stealing an assistant. According to multiple reports, the Broncos are set to hire wide receivers coach Keary Colbert to the same position, who spent five years in the NFL and part of one of them (2008) with the Broncos. The news was first reported by Matt Zenitz of On3.
The departure of Colbert marks the third Florida assistant to leave the program for the NFL this week. In the middle of the night between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, defensive coordinator Patrick Toney was announced to be leaving his post at Florida for the Arizona Cardinals. Later on Wednesday morning, tight ends coach William Peagler was announced to be joining him in the desert.
This one stings.
Colbert is an excellent relationship builder, and a very strong recruiter. As the receivers coach, Colbert was the primary recruiter for all three wide receivers Florida brought in this class: Aidan Mizell, Eugene Wilson, and Andy Jean. Mizell was deemed to be a particularly important recruiting victory, as he was also very interested in Alabama and Georgia before choosing to come to Florida.
Losing Colbert also hurts from a continuity standpoint. He’d worked under Napier as an assistant at Alabama in 2014 and 2015, and then came aboard in January 2022. Now, less than two weeks before spring practice, Billy Napier will suddenly have to replace him after it seemed certain that he would be a part of the 2023 Gator football team. Maybe he’ll be able to poach someone of comparable stature from another coaching staff, but time is short now and the pickings figure to be slim.
As far as his replacement? The answer might actually already be on staff.
Assistant wide receivers coach David Doeker joined the Florida a staff a year ago at the same time Colbert did, and is generally regarded as one of the rising stars of the profession. While a name like Ike Hilliard would be more of a splash- especially given that Hilliard rose to stardom at Florida during the Gators’ heyday under Steve Spurrier- Doeker brings that continuity bullet point that makes losing Colbert sting so much. Though young, his future is very, very bright- and if promoted, could stay with the Gators for as long as you could ever expect a hotshot young assistant to stay.
Doeker was recently named to the 2023 Our Coaching Network 30 Under 30 class, which, as its name would suggest, recognizes the thirty best assistant coaches in the country under the age of 30.
Best of luck to Keary Colbert on the next step in his journey. Thanks for all you did for the Gators. Go chase your dream and shoot up the ranks in the pros, Keary.