GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Twenty-one year coaching veteran Jeff Choate has been hired as the University of Florida football team’s Special Teams’ Coordinator and Outside Linebackers Coach, head coach Will Muschamp announced on Wednesday. Choate, who coached during the 2012 season at Washington State and comes to Gainesville after serving as the defensive coordinator at UTEP this Spring, has nine years of experience coaching special teams.
“We are excited to have Jeff Choate join our staff,” said Muschamp. “He is a high-energy coach, an outstanding recruiter and evaluator, and has a reputation as one of the top special-teams coaches in the nation. He has coached on both sides of the ball and was most recently a defensive coordinator. He sees the big picture and will be a great addition to our staff.
“I got to know Jeff several years ago when I as at Texas and he was at Boise State. He visited Austin and we spent a lot of time talking defensive and special teams schemes. He also visited us in Gainesville last spring and we are very much on the same page philosophically.”
“I’m excited about the opportunity to join the Gator staff and have the chance to compete at the highest level,” said Choate. “I’ve gotten to know Coach Muschamp over the past couple of years and have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a coach and a person. I’m looking forward to continuing the great special-teams tradition that has been established here and can’t wait to get to work.
“I would also like to thank everyone at UTEP, and most importantly Coach Kugler, for the support and opportunity they gave me. I wish him and the program nothing but the best of luck.”
Prior to spending the 2012 season as the linebackers coach at Washington State under head coach Mike Leach, Choate coached special teams at Boise State for six seasons. In addition, he has had stints at Eastern Illinois and Utah State as the special teams coach.
Last season, Choate coached three linebackers to All-Pac 12 honorable mention honors (senior Travis Long, sophomore Cyrus Coen and freshman Darryl Monroe). Washington State ranked eighth in the nation in tackles for losses (7.7 avg.) and 11th in sacks (2.9 avg.) in his lone season.
While at Boise State, Choate tutored several special teams’ stars. BSU kicker Kyle Brotzman became the highest-scoring kicker in school and conference history (439 points) and also holds the Broncos’ career leader in punting average (44.6). In 2008, Kyle Wilson led the country in punt return touchdowns (three) and ranked 12th in punt return average (14.2).
Boise State’s 2009 special teams unit was rated no. 1 in the nation by Phil Steele, led by Titus Young, who returned two kickoff returns for touchdowns to garner first team All-WAC honors. Young averaged 26.9 yards on kickoff returns that season to rate 20th in the nation.
Under Choate, Boise State ranked in the top-25 nationally in kickoff returns three times (2007, 10th; 2009, 4th; 2010, 23rd) under Choate, and in the top-25 in punt returns four times (2007, 22nd; 2008, 20th; 2010, 16th; 2011, 18th). The Broncos were rated as high as 12th in the FBS in kickoff return coverage in 2009, and 14th in punt return coverage in 2008.
Choate also worked with nickelbacks in 2010 at Boise State, helping Winston Venable earn first team All-WAC honors as the Broncos rated second nationally in scoring defense (12.8 ppg) and total defense (254.7 ypg). In 2009 working with linebackers, he helped BSU rank 14th nationally in both total defense (300.2 ypg) and scoring defense (17.1 ppg). The Broncos led the WAC in six defensive statistical categories in 2009 – passing efficiency defense, total defense, scoring defense, pass defense, tackles for losses and sacks allowed.
As running backs coach at Boise State, he was instrumental in the development of Ian Johnson, who became both the Boise State and Western Athletic Conference all-time leader with 58 rushing touchdowns. Johnson ran for 4,183 yards in a Bronco uniform – second in school history – and led the NCAA in rushing touchdowns (25) and scoring (152 points) in 2006. He established a school single-season standard with 1,714 rushing yards that year.
In Choate’s lone season with Eastern Illinois, the Panthers finished first in the Ohio Valley Conference. He began his collegiate coaching career as a graduate assistant at Utah State, working with the defensive line and the safeties, before becoming the special teams’ coordinator for the 2003-04 seasons.
>From 1997-2001, Choate was the head coach at Post Falls (Idaho) High School and also served as athletic director the final two years. Post Falls advanced to the state playoffs in both 1998 and 1999. Before coaching at Post Falls, Choate was the defensive coordinator at Twin Falls (Idaho) High School in 1996 and was the head coach at Challis (Idaho) High School from 1994-95. He earned District Six Coach of the Year honors after Challis registered its first winning season in 10 years and made the playoffs for the first time in nearly 20 years.
Choate graduated from Montana Western after a playing career as a linebacker. He and his wife, Janet, have one son, Jory, and one daughter, Jacy.
Florida (Special Teams Coordinator)
UTEP (Defensive Coordinator)
Washington State (Linebackers)
Boise State (Special Teams Coordinator/Nickelbacks)
Boise State (Special Teams Coordinator/Linebackers)
Boise State (Special Teams Coordinator/Running Backs)
Eastern Illinois (Special Teams Coordinator)
Utah State (Special Teams Coordinator)
Utah State (Graduate Assistant)
Post Falls HS (Idaho) (Head Coach)
Twin Falls HS (Idaho) (Defensive Coordinator)
Challis HS (Idaho) (Head Coach)
Montana Western (Linebackers)