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Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn returned to UF this weekend for a coaching clinic.

Saturday March 22, 2014Quinn Returns to UF for Coaching Clinic, Reflects on Time with Gators

Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn returned to UF this weekend for a coaching clinic.

By Michelle Provenzano Writing Intern

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Gators saw a familiar face on the sidelines when they got to the Sanders Practice Fields on Friday.

He looked familiar other than for his new color scheme.

Former Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn graced the boys in orange and blue on Friday afternoon — the first time Quinn has been back to Gainesville since leaving to become the Seattle's defensive coordinator after the 2012 season.

Quinn's first season back in the NFL ended with a Super Bowl ring.

Coordinating one of the best defenses in recent NFL history, Quinn helped the Seahawks roll over the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII last month. Quinn returned to UF to speak at the 2014 Gator Football Coaches’ Clinic and to relive the memories of being a part of the Gator Nation for two years as Florida's defensive coordinator.

Dan Quinn

“I’m so fired up to be back here,” said Quinn, decked in Seahawks gear. “There are so many people I connected with during my two years here.

“To get a chance not only to be back, but see them practice — a lot of the guys I helped recruit and be a part of that and seeing them develop — it’s a really cool experience.”

The practice field was packed on a hot Florida afternoon, giving Quinn some nostalgia about his time coaching the college squad.

“I distinctively remember my first day here,” Quinn said. “I wanted to see who some of the players were, so I put on the Florida tape against Auburn with Cam Newton, and I’m thinking ‘what did I get myself into?’

“I think one of the awesome parts about coaching in the SEC, there is such a wide variety of offense and defense. There are teams that want to play hardball and really aggressive and there are spread teams and gun-run teams. During that time, it really helped me.”

Quinn spent 10 seasons as an NFL assistant before coming to Florida as part of Will Muschamp's inaugural UF staff.

The defense-focused style that Muschamp is known for was something that just clicked with Quinn. The two worked together for a season on Nick Saban's staff with the Dolphins and remained in touch after Muschamp left after one season to return to college football.

“Part of the reason I’m back is because I have such a gratitude for Will and the university for giving me an opportunity to become a defensive coordinator,” Quinn said. “For 10 years I had coached the defensive line in the NFL, and I had an absolute blast.

“There was a part of me that wanted to take a bigger leadership role as a defensive coordinator. Will was the one who gave me that opportunity. They helped me as much as anybody ever has. They helped me prepare for Seattle.”

Despite leaving the Gators after just two years as defensive coordinator, Quinn and Muschamp remain close.

Quinn respects the way Muschamp leads the program.

“I think one of the things I’ve always most admired about Will is just his determination,” Quinn said. “He was able to see things through. You can tell, the attitude and effort he puts into it, it’s infectious to everybody around him.

"He’s an unbelievably good guy to work with. We hit it off from way back when, and we still send a text before a game or a call after a game, so that will always be the case.”

Then again, Muschamp can’t ignore the success Quinn achieved in his first season back with the Seahawks. You don’t turn away Super Bowl champs, after all.

But Quinn humbly gave credit to what he learned under Muschamp, and discussed his role in helping the Gators rank as one of the top 10 defenses in 2012 — motivating and encouraging a room of about 130 high school football coaches attending the clinic.

“Coaching here was one of the best experiences I have ever had coaching,” Quinn said.

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