Florida head football coach Urban Meyer didn’t waste any time finding a replacement for departed wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales. He knew who he wanted — a young coach with good recruiting skills and an ability to coach and relate to today’s players.
Zach Azzanni has been hired as the wide receivers coach at the University of Florida head coach Urban Meyer announced Friday.
Meyer got it all when he tabbed Central Michigan wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni, who got his big coaching break at Bowling Green under Meyer.
“Zach and I worked together when I was the head coach at Bowling Green,” said Meyer. “He is a tireless worker, relentless recruiter and a great teacher of fundamentals. He is also very familiar with our philosophy and will be a good fit with our players and staff.”
Azzanni, who has spent the last seven years coaching wide receivers, tutored a pair of record-setting wide receivers at Central Michigan, which captured its third conference title and secured a fourth straight January bowl appearance.
“I’ve known coach Meyer for a number of years and it will be great to be coaching with him again,“ Azzanni added. “I’m excited to be joining the Florida football staff and becoming a part of the Gator Nation.”
Azzanni’s 2009 wide receiver unit was one of the most prolific in the college football. Bryan Anderson established an NCAA mark with a catch in 53 consecutive games, while teammate Antonio Brown has a streak of 40 straight games with a catch.
Anderson and Brown combined for 15 touchdown receptions in 2009, tied for the top duo for scoring receptions in the country. Anderson has totaled more than 3,500 yards receiving in his career and Brown eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the second consecutive year and surpassed 3,000-yard receiving for his career.
Azzanni’s 2008 unit showed depth, with at least six players catching a touchdown pass and five hauling in at least 15 passes. His 2007 position group produced the top pass-catching combination in school history. Anderson and Brown a combined for 192 catches, 2,135 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Prior to joining the Central Michigan Staff, Azzanni spent the previous six seasons at Bowling Green. He coached the wide receivers from 2003- 06, leading a group that broke nearly every school receiving record. He coached Charles Sharon; the school’s all-time leader in receptions (232), receiving yards (3,450) and touchdown catches (34). In 2004 he coached a group that produced four receivers with 1,000 yards receiving. Five of his receivers at Bowling Green went on to sign professional contracts.
He graduated with a degree in Sports Management in 1999 from Central Michigan. Azzanni and his wife, Julia, have two daughters: Ava (2) and Lyla (1).
From Football Scoop’s WR Coach of the Year finalists…
The disciplined play of Zack Azzanni’s wide receivers helped Central Michigan finish the regular season 10-2 with losses coming only to Arizona and Boston College. Under Azzanni’s tutelage, Antonio Brown and Bryan Anderson were recognized as 1st and 2nd team All-Mid American Conference selections, respectively. The Chippewas’ receivers performed exceptionally well in the late comeback win over Michigan State. Impressively, CMU converted 50% of third down opportunities and averaged over 34 points per game. Several coaches nominated Azzanni for this award, and we particularly liked the comment made by one coach that said, “Do you know Zach? First of all, he finds players in recruiting that nobody else finds. When you watch them play, you wonder ‘How did those guys not end up in the ACC or Big 10?’ Zach coaches them hard and they love playing for him. I know that for certain.”
Zach Azzanni File
1999- 2000: Wide Receivers Coach, Valparaiso
2001- 02: Graduate Assistant (Offense), Bowling Green
2003- 06 Wide Receivers Coach, Bowling Green
2007- 09 Assistant Head Coach/Wide Receivers, Central Michigan
MORE CHANGES: Gator Country.com is also hearing there may be as many as two other coaching changes, but some of them are pending moves at other places. We are hearing that Vance Bedford could go to Louisville. Not sure how all of this impacts the staff, offensively or defensively, but we are also hearing that Steve Addazio’s name is on the short list as a head coach in a couple of places. Stay tuned and stay cool. This is not Armageddon. Urban has some great names for replacements, we hear.