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Pensacola is in a unique geographical location, especially when it comes to Division I football.
Tucked between Tallahassee and Tuscaloosa, there's no true favorite. There's a mix of Florida State fans and Alabama fans, but the team from Gainesville would like to have a word, too.
On Thursday night from the Sanders Beach - Corinne Jones Resource Center, first-year Florida Gators head coach Billy Napier spoke to the Northwest Florida Gators Club to introduce himself and explain how he plans on rebuilding the program into a national contender.
"There's history, there's tradition, the people here have experience winning, they know what it looks like and they want more of it," Napier said. "And my standards and expectations are far greater than any other person out there, so hopefully, that's going to lead to success."
One way the Gators could get more Pensacola natives aboard that train is by recruiting their players. Over the more recent years, the Gators program has not been well-represented by the local pool of talent.
With the transfer of former Escambia wide receiver Jacob Copeland from Florida to Maryland this offseason, that leaves exactly zero Pensacola players on this year's Gators roster.
However, Napier has familiarity with the region and is looking to get some roots down in order to secure local players for his teams of the future.
"We're looking for more Emmitt Smith's, I'll tell you that much," Napier laughed. "This is in our footprint, it's in our state, and we evaluate every player in our footprint so we are flipping over every rock and certainly, history is the best indicator of the future and there's been some special players in this part of the country."
Napier hit it on the head as Pensacola has a proven track record of churning out NFL-level talent. Pro Football Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks went to Booker T. Washington, Super Bowl Champion Fred Robbins went to Tate and other Super Bowl winner Doug Baldwin went to Gulf Breeze.
That list is only the tip of the iceberg, but the new Florida head coach is familiar with it all. As a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide coaching staff for five years and then the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajun head coach for four, Napier knows a little bit about recruiting in the Panhandle.
He'll just have to pick up those strategies and move them to Gainesville, which he is actively doing every day. When he took over for the fired Dan Mullen and interim head coach Greg Knox, Napier's vision was starting to come true.
"I would like to think that we built a place at Louisiana with the intentions that maybe one day we would pick that operation up to a bigger challenge, a greater challenge, bigger platform," Napier said. "We built that systematically with the idea that we would pick that up and bring it to the next stop … and I like to think that that's going to translate."
Napier's 2021 Ragin' Cajun roster featured redshirt freshman Amir McDaniel, a defensive back formerly of West Florida Tech, and several players from Mobile, just minutes away over the Alabama border.
So as time goes on, expect Florida to have its face showing in this neck of the woods more often and to maybe see your fellow locals wearing a bit more blue and orange.
Lucas Semb can be reached at Lsemb@pensacol.gannett.com or 850-281-7414. Follow him on Twitter at @Lucas_Semb for stories and various Pensacola area score updates.
This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Florida Gators head coach Billy Napier visits Pensacola during tour