Florida’s Billy Napier: ‘Awesome’ to watch Stetson Bennett play at Georgia

Florida coach Billy Napier speaks during a news conference at the SEC Media Days, Wednesday, July 20, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

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Florida coach Billy Napier speaks during a news conference at the SEC Media Days, Wednesday, July 20, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

On the third day of the SEC Media Days, first-year Florida coach Billy Napier called the Gators “a work in progress.”

Napier, who went 40-12 in four seasons at Louisiana-Lafayette, takes over after Florida’s 6-7 season that saw Dan Mullen fired after a 5-6 start. When addressing the media Wednesday, Napier was asked about Georgia, a team coming off a national championship and in quite a different position than Florida.

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Napier praised both UGA coach Kirby Smart, who enters his seventh season at the helm, and quarterback Stetson Bennett. He has ties to both, with Smart and Napier both former Nick Saban assistant coaches at Alabama, and having recruited Bennett to Louisiana-Lafayette, though Bennett ended up at UGA.

“Nothing but respect for Kirby,” Napier said. “I mean, the guy’s an unbelievable football coach, leader. He’s a fantastic person. Unbelievable competitor. I’ll tell you, first time I saw him was at our first SEC meeting. I told him, I said, Congratulations. I mean, I know what goes into that, right? I’m proud of the guy, to be quite honest. He’s done it, and he’s done it the right way. It’s going to be great to compete against him.

“I think Stetson, it’s pretty awesome to turn the TV on and see that guy playing quarterback for the Dogs. He’s committed to University of Louisiana, got a chance to go back and play. Had the confidence. You think about his character, his confidence and his abilities. Fantastic player and a great leader. Certainly I can see why Georgia took him.”