ATHENS – Hines Ward was a visitor at Georgia’s spring football practice on Tuesday, but you had to look hard to find him.
Dressed head-to-toe in Bulldogs’ coaching garb, unless you looked very closely it was impossible to distinguish him from any number of assistant coaches, grad assistants, managers or trainers. But Ward wasn’t trying to be incognito. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ star and recent NFL retiree came to his alma mater to try to get an idea whether college coaching would be a vocation he cared to pursuit.
“He just wanted to come over and spend the day with me and kind of see what coaching was like,” said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, who played all four years at Georgia with Ward (1994-97). “He’s trying to see if that’s something he wants to go into.”
Asked what his advice was to Ward, Bobo laughed. “My wife told to me to tell him no.”
Nevertheless, Ward is expected to shadow Bobo for at least a couple more days. The Bulldogs are actually conducting a coaches’ clinic this week, which begins on Thursday.
“I hate that he couldn’t come out there and help us coach,” Bobo said. “All he could do was stand over there and watch.”
NCAA rules prevent Ward or any outside experts from actually coaching on the field. However, he did address the team in the locker room before practice.
“Bobo wanted to bring me out here to see the guys and stuff like that,” Ward told georgiadogs.com. “It’s encouraging. I’m excited about the upcoming year. And who knows? I always said if I ever wanted to coach this would probably be the first place I’d like to do that. I’m still lobbying Coach Richt to give me a job.”
Ward muffled a “no” as he laughed after that last statement. To bring him onto the staff at this juncture, Richt would have to reassign one of this current assistants or let them go altogether.
Ward, who was featured on the television show “Dancing with the Stars and actually won the competition, has also expressed an interest in television and acting. He indicated coaching wasn’t something he was likely to do right away. But in any case he is looking for some way to assist UGA.
“No time soon but one day,” Ward said of coaching. “Coaching is easy for me. I think I have a lot to give back to my alma mater and I want to see the Georgia Bulldogs win a national championship. So any experience or knowledge I can give to the football team to help them to get to that goal, so be it.”
You can see the full video of Ward’s interview on the school’s website by CLICKING HERE.
Ward, a wide receiver who won a Super Bowl MVP with Pittsburgh in 2006, was released by the Steelers on February 29. He retired from football just last week, saying he wanted to be “a Steeler for life.”
Bobo was measured in his comments, but you can tell he’s not thrilled about losing Malcolm Mitchell to the defensive side of the ball for spring practice.
“No comment,” he said tersely. “I don’t even want to talk about it.”
After letting loose a laugh, Bobo said he hates to lose Mitchell but understands why he had to move. He also said he hasn’t given up on having the explosive receiver back on his side of the ball next fall.
It is what it is right now,” Bobo said. “He has to do what’s best for the team and help the defense. But it’s kind of back to recruiting in my mind. I’m recruiting the crap out of him daily.”
Meanwhile, secondary coach Scott Lakatos said he likes what he has seen of Mitchell at cornerback.
“He’s doing great. He’s such a good athlete he could be anything he wants to be,” Lakatos said.
Etc. . . .
It’s official: Tailback Richard Samuel is being cross-trained at fullback. . . . Noseguard John Jenkins missed practice Tuesday to attend to some academic responsibilities, according to defensive line coach Rodney Garner. . . . Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham does not expect outside linebacker Sterling Bailey (foot) to play this spring. . . . Wide receiver Rantavious Wooten remained sidelined with a pulled leg muscle. . . . Junior Dallas Lee appears to be getting increasingly more work at center. Lee started seven games at guard before suffering a broken leg this past season.