Will Friend celebrated his 36th birthday Monday by becoming Georgia’s offensive line coach.
Friend, who held the same position at Alabama-Birmingham for the past four seasons, was an All-SEC offensive lineman at Alabama in the 1990s and a graduate assistant coach at Georgia in 2003-04.
He fills the position vacated on the Georgia staff by last month’s departure of Stacy Searels for the same job at Texas.
At UAB, Friend worked under head coach Neil Callaway, who was Georgia’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach from 2001-06. Callaway became UAB’s head coach in 2007 and immediately hired Friend, who had been offensive line coach at Gardner-Webb for two years after his graduate-assistant stint under Callaway at Georgia.
“I got to see first-hand his work ethic when he was a graduate assistant on our staff,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said in a statement announcing the hire, “and since that time he’s developed into a seasoned, top-notch offensive line coach.”
The hire, expected since late last week, became official when routine pre-employment background checks were completed.
Friend was traveling and not available for an interview Monday. He said in a statement that he is “extremely excited” about the “tremendous opportunity” at Georgia.
“When I worked with Coach Richt and the staff as a grad assistant, I had a great experience, and I always wondered if I might have the opportunity to come back to Athens,” he said. “I am looking forward to getting to work.”
Friend, a native of Philadelphia, Miss., was a member of Alabama’s “Team of the Decade” for the 1990s. He was a four-year starter at offensive guard for the Crimson Tide from 1993-97.
Of the 120 FBS (formerly Division I-A) teams, UAB last season ranked 15th in fewest sacks allowed (12), 30th in total offense (423 yards per game), 24th in passing offense (267 yards per game) and 59th in rushing offense (156 yards per game).