Dan Mullen searching for an alpha dog

It’s hard to explain in words but when you’re in their presence you can feel it. Football locker rooms around the country are filled with alpha personalities but it takes more than that to be an alpha dog in a room filled with other alphas.

Dan Mullen has had his fair share since he’s been coaching.

“Dak, to me, was the best I’ve ever seen at it. But, I’ve seen – there’s been a to,” Mullen said. “You look at guys like Benardrick McKinney was for me, Jeffery Simmons. I mean, you know when you have them. But, I mean, Brandon Spikes, Major Wright. I mean, you look at them and the Pouncey brothers, you don’t win two national championships in three years – I mean, trust me, we had a lot of talent – but there was some alpha dogs that were making sure that the level of play was at an extremely high level.”

It’s not something that comes natural to everyone. You may be able to learn it or grow into it but you can’t fake it. That reeks and won’t fly in a locker room. Jarrad Davis was an alpha dog. It was apparent in the way he talked, walked around and went about his business. Davis commanded respect and it was given.

“That’s the name. Down there in the locker room — and I don’t know Jarrad that well — but they said ‘Jarrad Davis was an alpha dog.’ And he’s the only example that they’ve seen as an alpha dog, that a lot of guys who have been here throughout their career have seen as a true alpha.”

You don’t need one on the roster. When Dan Mullen said he didn’t think the Gators had one now and that they didn’t have one last year a reporter was quick to point out that Mullen and the Gators still won 10 games.

To be clear, Mullen isn’t saying his team lacks leadership. Feleipe Franks’ last four games instilled a new, resounding confidence in him from his team and he has stepped into a leadership role. Not just a, ‘oh he’s the quarterback so he’s a leader by default role’ either. He’s earned their respect. He put it on the field and he carried that into the offseason. He’s not at “alpha dog” status in Mullen’s book yet but he has the potential to be.

“There’s guys that have the opportunity to do it. Now they might not be as great as the guy that it’s just a pure, natural thing. But they can be good enough to go do it. And we’ve just got to continue to help show them how to, if that makes sense. We’ve got to show them how to be that alpha dog,” Mullen said. “’Hey, you do it right this way.’ And even be verbal in these ways. Either guys that a really loud but make sure ‘this is the right way to be loud and make sure your actions back it up,’ or guys that do everything the right way, how to be a little bit (louder), when to talk and when to get your point across.”

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC