Ten notable players that Billy Napier recruited
As Florida looks to get back on the right track, the hiring of Louisiana head coach Billy Napier to the same position should help boost the Gators' recruiting efforts. After graduating from Furman University, Napier's first major job was at Clemson where, at various points from 2006- 10, he coached tight ends and quarterbacks and served as recruiting coordinator and offensive coordinator.
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During Napier's time at Clemson, he helped the Tigers sign recruiting classes that ranked 16th, 16th, 12th, 37th, and 19th. Those results aren't outstanding but those classes featured players like C.J. Spiller, DaQuan Bowers, Tajh Boyd and many others that laid the ground work for Clemson to reach elite status as a program.
After singe-season stops at Alabama as an analyst and Colorado State as assistant head coach and quarterback coach, Napier took the tight end coach and recruiting job at Florida State before backing out a month later to return to Alabama. He spent the next five seasons (2013-17) on Nick Saban's staff, first as wide receivers coach and then as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. It was during his time on Alabama's staff that Napier really made a name for himself on the recruiting trail, signing more than a handful of household names.
Here's a look at 10 notable players Napier has recruited during his coaching career.
Ridley was a game-changing receiver at Alabama and has proven his lofty ranking right. The Crimson Tide got his commitment in April before his senior season and held onto him despite a big push from Florida State down the stretch. Napier was a big part of why Ridley chose Alabama over his many other options.
Diggs came to Alabama as a receiver and had high hopes of being Napier's next big time prospect at the position. Choosing the Crimson Tide over hometown Maryland, Nick Saban eventually flipped Diggs over to the defensive side of the ball and the rest is history. The Cowboys picked Diggs in the second rouch of the 2020 NFL Draft and his pro career is taking off.
Alabama's offense was unstoppable with Jeudy as its No. 1 receiver. Napier assisted in his recruitment and it turned out to be a very fruitful relationship in Tuscaloosa. The south Florida standout picked Alabama over Florida, Florida State, Miami, and Tennessee.
Very few recruitments were as intense as Robinson's was. Napier lean on his relationships in the state of Louisiana to lure Robinson away from LSU and it made a big difference. Robinson went on to start for a few years for the Crimson Tide before getting drafted in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Boyd was the quarterback that helped elevate Clemson and Dabo Swinney to a level that could appeal to five-star quarterbacks like Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence. Originally committed to West Virginia and then Tennessee before settling on Clemson, picking the Tigers over Ohio State and Oregon.
Sims turned out of be a very productive receiver for the Crimson Tide and Napier was one of the biggest factors in his recruitment. Sims also helped Napier recruit players like Robinson and Laurence "Hootie" Jones in the same recruiting class. Oklahoma State and Ole Miss were some of the other major contenders for his commitment.
Beasley was a major part of Clemson's rise to prominence in the early part of Dabo Swinney's tenure. Napier helped the Tigers land his commitment over Auburn, where Beasley's father played. Beasley developed into a great pass rusher while at Clemson and was taken with the 8th pick in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons.
Napier was the lead recruiter for Thompson and getting his commitment was a major accomplishment at the time. Thompson chose the Tigers over Tennessee and a host of other major programs. He ended up getting selected in the 3rd round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Signing Mayden at Alabama was a big win for the Crimson Tide. Napier assisted in his recruitment and helped keep him from picking Oklahoma or Oregon on Signing Day. After four interceptions in his senior season, Mayden went undrafted in 2020 and he is currently playing for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Jones was part of the same recruiting class as Robinson and Sims, all of which Napier played a big role in recruiting. The Louisiana native had a hard time picking between the Crimson Tide and LSU but he ended up committed to Alabama in early January of his senior year. Jones ended his career at Alabama with 76 tackles and two interceptions.