ATHENS – Will Friend was a two-time All-SEC offensive lineman at Alabama in the 1990s, but by the end of his playing days there, it was obvious his future was in coaching.
Friend, who started work Tuesday as Georgia’s newly hired offensive line coach, recalled a meeting about his future with his position coach, Neil Callaway, after his senior season at Alabama:
“Right after the season, he called me in and said, ‘Hey, listen, whatcha going to do?’
“I said, ‘Well, I don’t know.’
“He said, ‘Well, you ain’t going to be able to play any pro ball.’
“I said, ‘I didn’t think so.’
“He said, ‘I think you can coach.’”
That’s how Friend’s career started. He worked three years as a graduate assistant coach under Callaway at Alabama, then one year as an assistant at West Alabama, one year as a high school coach in Tuscaloosa, two years as a graduate assistant at Georgia (under Callaway), two years as offensive line coach at Gardner-Webb, four years as offensive line coach at UAB (again under Callaway) and now back to Georgia.
He started work Tuesday morning at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall in a much larger office than the one he shared with other graduate assistants in 2003-04.
“There were three or four of us in there,” Friend recalled. “We had to fight for chairs. If you got in early, you got a chair for the day.”
Friend’s daughter, Katie, now 6, was born in Athens while he was working here as a grad assistant.
“I told her . . . ‘you’re getting to go back home,’” Friend said.
He said Georgia’s offensive linemen will find him to be consistent and honest.
“I think it can be a very good group,” he said.
He phoned the Bulldogs’ six offensive-line signees Monday night “and told them, basically, ‘You guys don’t know me and I don’t know you, but we both picked Georgia. . . . We can build our relationship off that.’”
– Tim Tucker, UGA Blog