Georgia and Georgia Tech both hired defensive coordinators in the last 24 hours. The timing is not a coincidence.
The Yellow Jackets are expected to name former Virginia head coach Al Groh as defensive coordinator later today. The Bulldogs tabbed Dallas Cowboys defensive line coach Todd Grantham head of their defense earlier Friday.
Why now? The NCAA calendar on Friday flipped out of the red of a dead period into the yellow of a quiet period. On Monday, it switches to the full-out green of a contact period that will continue for two weeks. Both schools are hosting official visits this weekend.
Tech and Georgia needed to have these situations resolved so they could introduce their defensive recruits to the men they’d be playing for if not just be able to say with certainty who it would be.
Ten of the Yellow Jackets’ 13 commitments so far are with either slated to play defense or have extensive experience on that side of the ball. Twelve of the Bulldogs’ 19 commitments are defenders.
“I got a text message from one of the players on the team this morning,” longtime Georgia Tech commitment Denzel McCoy said. “I think it’s a great hire. I think he’s going to bring some new things with him and that’s going to be good for us. I’ve heard nothing but good things about him.”
Georgia players are excited about Grantham’s pro experience.
“I’m kind of excited about it,” said Port St. Lucie linebacker Deon Rogers, who was about to board a plane for an official visit to LSU. “I didn’t know [the new defensive coordinator] was going to be from the NFL. I’m shocked but shocked in a good way.”
Rogers has been taking visits at other schools since Willie Martinez was fired as Georgia’s defensive coordinator last month. But he said he remains committed to the Bulldogs and the hiring of Grantham “definitely” helps.
Grantham’s hiring has helped with at least one other recruit. Manning, S.C., defensive end Dexter Morant has canceled a weekend visit scheduled for Clemson this weekend because he now intends to stick with the Bulldogs, according to DawgPost.com.
That does not mean Georgia’s top 10 recruiting class has been preserved. For the moment (Mark Richt doesn’t address media until 5:15 p.m.) we don’t know how Grantham’s hire will affect recruiting coordinator and assistant head coach Rodney Garner. The lone holdover of the defensive staff happens to coach defensive line, the same position Grantham has handled most of his career.
Garner is directly responsible for several of Georgia’s commitments, including high-touted defensive linemen Garrison Smith of Douglass and T.J. Stripling of Southwest DeKalb. He’s also the lead recruiter of defensive tackle prospects Mike Thornton and Jeff Whitaker.