December 29, 2012

Coaching Hot Board update

With Rodney Garner's decision to leave Georgia after 15 years, the Bulldogs are now in the market to find themselves a new defensive line coach.

According to defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, that's just what they're going to get.

Grantham - who told UGASports he will hire the new Bulldog assistant - said he will hire a new defensive line coach and denied that he would take over coaching the position himself.

"It will be a good hire, just like Kirk (Olivadotti) and Scott (Lakatos)," Grantham said via text.

He said there is no timetable for the new hire.

Although it's still too early to get a handle on what Grantham might be thinking, UGASports has been together a hot board of potential replacements who could fit Grantham's description.

We will update the hot board as we move along in the process and more information becomes available. Potential candidates are listed in no particular order.

Giff Smith (Buffalo Bills): No stranger to the state of Georgia, Smith is a native of Mableton and graduated from Georgia Southern before spending six years as the defensive line coach at Georgia Tech (2004-2009), where he also served as the program's recruiting coordinator in 2006. Smith is currently in his third season as the defensive line coach with the Buffalo Bills under former boss at Georgia Tech, Chan Gailey. In 2007, Georgia Tech ranked first nationally in sacks and second in tackles for loss. At Buffalo, Smith is credited for the development of defensive tackle Kyle Williams and former Alabama standout Marcel Dareus, who led the Bills with 5.5 sacks and had 10 tackles for loss his rookie season in 2011. He also spent time as an assistant at Tulane and at Georgia Southern. Smith also served as a graduate assistant at Georgia in 1994 and 1995.

Travis Jones (New Orleans Saints): Jones is a Georgia graduate who played for the Bulldogs from 1990 to 1994 before moving on to the college and professional ranks, where he currently serves as the assistant defensive line coach for the New Orleans Saints. The Milledgeville native spent the 2003 and 2004 seasons as the defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator for LSU, and in his first season, the Tigers recorded a school-record 44 sacks. While there's no doubt that Jones is an excellent coach with and relates to recruits extremely well, Jones a few years ago opted for a plea agreement following his involvement in a real estate scam in Texas. Jones was given probation for the incident. Would that keep Georgia from hiring the former Bulldog assistant? Likely, but never say never.

Odell Haggins (Florida State): Getting Haggins away from Florida State, considering he is a Seminole grad and has been with the program for 19 years might seem like a stretch, but one never knows. His familiarity with Bulldog head coach Mark Richt doesn't put his hire completely out of the realm of possibility. An outstanding recruiter as well as an excellent coach, Haggins would certainly get a look if he were to express interest.

Kacy Rodgers (Miami Dolphins): Rogers is currently the defensive line coach of the Miami Dolphins where he has served the past five years (2008-present) after spending the previous five seasons (2003-2007) as a defensive assistant with the Dallas Cowboys. A graduate of the University of Tennessee, Rodgers was a four-year letterman for the Vols (1988-1991) and has college experience coaching, including a one-year stint at Arkansas as the Razorbacks' defensive line coach in 2002. Ironically, Rodgers replaced former Bulldog player Travis Jones as the Dolphins' defensive line coach in 2008.

Tracy Rocker (Tennessee Titans): Rocker was rumored to perhaps be returning to his alma-mater at Auburn before Rodney Garner took the job. The former Auburn star is currently in his second year as the defensive line coach with the Tennessee Titans, but is certainly no stranger to life in the SEC after stops at Arkansas (2003-2007), Ole Miss (2008) and Auburn (2009-2010). Rocker also coached at Troy where he worked with DeMarcus Ware, who later played under Grantham with the Dallas Cowboys. A former Outland and Lombardi Award winner, Rocker would command instant respect, both on the practice and on the recruiting trails where he built quite the reputation while serving in the college ranks.

Keith Willis (North Carolina State): Willis has served as the defensive line coach at North Carolina State since 2007 and is considered one of the top assistants at his position in the ACC. Willis for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1982-91, with the Buffalo Bills and the Washington Redskins in 1993. He battled back from a neck injury that kept him sidelined for all of the 1988 season to start all 16 games in 1989. Ended his career with the Steelers following the 1991 season and played as a reserve on the Buffalo Bills team that competed in the Super Bowl in 1993.

Jim Jeffcoat (defensive line coach, San Jose State): With more than 20 years as a NFL player and coach, Jim Jeffcoat joined the San Jose State University coaching staff as the defensive line coach in March of 2011 but his current status is up in the air after former head coach Mike MacIntyre took the head coaching job at Colorado. In a 15-year career with the Dallas Cowboys (1983-94) and the Buffalo Bills (1995-1997), Jeffcoat finished with 102.5 career sacks, which ranks among the top 25 in NFL history. Jeffcoat began his coaching career in 1998 with Dallas, where he spent seven seasons coaching the Cowboys' defensive linemen. Jeffcoat coached at the University of Houston for two seasons before taking the job at San Jose State.

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