The whole story on Georgia’s new D-line coach, Chris Wilson

ATHENS — Chris Wilson can say this about his new gig at Georgia – it’s not complicated.

That couldn’t be said for the situation he just left. At Mississippi State, Wilson was co-defensive coordinator the past three seasons. Only, it’s not quite that simple.

Former Mississippi State defensive coordinator Chris Wilson begins his tenure as Georgia's defensive line coach on Thursday.

Former Mississippi State defensive coordinator Chris Wilson begins his tenure as Georgia's defensive line coach on Thursday.

“Actually I was the defensive coordinator,” Wilson explained Wednesday evening, a short time after the Bulldogs officially named him their new defensive line coach. “It was like when Manny (Diaz) and I were coordinators together for a year (in 2010). Manny had the 51 percent and I had the 49 percent. The last two years I had the 51 percent and Geoff (Collins) had the 49 percent. For the majority of the time I called (the defense during games). But there was a group of guys who helped organized it, from Melvin Smith to Tony Hughes. It was a collective effort. But on game day, I guess I was the one that actually made the calls on a play-to-play basis.”

State’s defenses actually performed quite well under Wilson’s guidance. Paired with Diaz, the Bulldogs finished third in the SEC in scoring at 19.8 points per game and Wilson actually improved on that (19.7) as the lead DC in 2011. State finished 34th (23.2) this past season after losing defensive tackle Fletcher Cox a year early to the NFL draft. The Maroon Dogs were 52nd in total defense (387,38 ypg).

But as the Bulldogs limped into the Gator Bowl, losers of five of their last six games, coach Dan Mullen decided to shake up the defensive staff and shifted the defensive play-calling duties to Collins.

“With losing Coach Smith (to Auburn), we were short a guy or two and Coach Mullen wanted to move the deal around, so that’s what he did,” Wilson said. “I think it was something we’ll have to look back on to know whether it was a good situation for us.”

It didn’t go well initially. State lost to Northwestern 34-20.

And obviously it wasn’t a good situation for Wilson because, soon thereafter, he was interviewing for Georgia’s defensive line vacancy left by Rodney Garner’s pre-Christmas departure for Auburn. Wilson accepted the Bulldogs’ offer last week and they finally announced it Wednesday after UGA’s hiring process and background checks were completed.

It is not yet certain whether Wilson will assume any of Garner’s other titles, which included assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator.

“As of right now, I’m coaching the ‘Big Uglies’ and I’m really excited about it,” said Wilson, who also coached defensive line at State, Oklahoma and several schools before before that.

Either way, Wilson has inherited a big job at Georgia. The Bulldogs had already lost starters Abry Jones and John Jenkins off the line to exhausted eligibility when fourth-year junior Kwame Geathers informed UGA coaches Wednesday of his intentions to enter the NFL draft. Geathers (6-6, 355) was the heir apparent at noseguard, a critical position in defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s 3-4 scheme.

“I’m familiar with the guys I’ll have,” said Wilson, who played linebacker at Oklahoma. “I’ll have my first chance to meet with those guys on the roster sometime in the next day or two. I’m not up to speed on every one of the guys.

“But what I am up to speed on is I know the University of Georgia and Coach (Mark) Richt have done a tremendous job of recruiting. I believe there is a lot of talent there. It’s just young talent that has to be developed and worked with. But I’m excited about that. I don’t see the cupboard being bare.”

Wilson ran a 4-3 scheme at State. But he doesn’t anticipate any problems switching to the 3-4 favored by Grantham.

“A shade’s a shade’s, the way I coach it,” he said. “I’ve done this about 20 years now and the thing is, you’re not so much married to a scheme as you are personnel. I think we’ve recruited well to fit the system (at Georgia). These guys were brought in to play this style and I’m excited about coaching them because I think you’ve got a good young group of guys there that you can really develop.”

Georgia returns rising senior Garrison Smith, an eight-game starter, at one defensive end position and have Ray Drew and Sterling Bailey at the other. The Bulldogs’ players gush about the potential of redshirt freshman John Taylor at noseguard but also have junior Mike Thornton in the fold as well as junior college transfer Chris Mayes and prep-school, early-enrollee John Atkins, among others.

Meanwhile, some of Wilson’s first recruiting stops when the dead period is lifted on Friday will be to see Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College star defensive lineman Toby Johnson, Dooly County 5-star prospect Montravius Adams and Chamblee defensive end Davin Bellamy. The Bulldogs also have a commitment from 3-star defensive tackle prospect DeAndre Johnson of Newnan.

“I think it’s a tremendous recruiting class out there,” Wilson said. “We’ll see what kind of players they are in the next year or two also.”

The biggest recruiting battle for Wilson may be the one waged in his own living room. He and his wife Tina will be moving the Athens area with a prospect of his own in tow. Caleb Wilson is a 6-foot-3, 180-pound quarterback drawing recruiting interest in both football and basketball. He’s a rising junior, or Class of 2015.

“He’s excited about the new opportunity,” Wilson said of the Starkville High star. “Obviously it’s always a tough transition for a young guy like that. But he’s excited about coming there and excited about the competition level he’s going to get at Georgia.”

As for which school will land Caleb and his little sister Colby, 12, Wilson said he’s staying out of that.

“Mom is all about academics and people, so that will be up to her,” Wilson said with a laugh. “She’s No. 1 on that deal. I wish my boy good luck on that because Mom’s going to determine it.”

Clearly a savvy recruiter as well.


70 comments Add your comment

Dawg Days

January 10th, 2013
6:19 am

Welcome and Go Dawgs.

Grantham's The Man!

January 10th, 2013
6:34 am

Sounds like Richt made a great choice in Chris Wilson. Go Dawgs!!!


January 10th, 2013
6:43 am

Sounds like he’s excited to be here,something Garner hasn’t been in three or four years.

Win. P.

January 10th, 2013
6:43 am

Alabama has rewritten the book on what it takes to win consistently in big games…good coaches & good players.
Wish Mr. Wilson the best as a Dawg.

UGA Dawg91

January 10th, 2013
7:02 am

With Geathers leaving, getting Toby Johnson and M. Adams will be huge. Mays is coming from JUCO so he should be ready to play. Hopefully everything being said about Taylor is true. But Johnson and Adams will add great depth for that DLine. If he can get these two and Davin Bellamy that will be even better.

What about the Kelsey Griffin (think that’s his name). I know he’s committed to SC now but is he an option at this point?

Columbus Dawg

January 10th, 2013
7:09 am

Hey Win. P., it has always taken good coaches and good players to win big games, the Turds have not rewritten anything. Coach Wilson will be given the task, along with the highest paid asst. coach in UGA history in Grantham, of picking the right players out of the pool of linemen available to suit up in 2013. Grantham needs to take note, his defense will be expected to finally produce this year, and like Mark Richt, it seems he has a knack for under achieving while he has so called elite players on his squad. No more free ride years for Grantham’s D. get the correct “big uglies ” on the field and for once get the linebackers and d. backs in position to fill the gaps. Your words not mine. Just do it. NO excuses.

Beach Crowded with Pasty Minnesotans

January 10th, 2013
7:44 am

Seems like a good choice.

Coach Wilson has special teams coaching experience, too, though our special teams woes were much lessened this past year. I’m not ready, yet, to say cured.

On thing you can say about Coach Grantham’s defense is that it makes good halftime adjustments. We seem consistently to come out of the half knowing what to do and when to do it.

Now, if we can just start games that way.

Just Asking?

January 10th, 2013
7:49 am

Don’t we need some O-Line commitments more than D-Line? Just Asking?


January 10th, 2013
7:54 am

The closer to the ball a player plays, the more dynamic impact he has on success.

Smart was on staff

January 10th, 2013
7:58 am

Looks like Prince Avenue Christian is getting a new stud quarterback, and forward


January 10th, 2013
7:59 am

@Just Asking?



January 10th, 2013
8:01 am

There is something wrong with the coaching when Georgia has so many good players but yields so many yards. The defense looked like a sieve against Alabama. I hope coach Wilson can fix this problem.


January 10th, 2013
8:15 am

Just asking, over 2100 yds from two freshmen backs 300 (all against us lol) behind the great Bama line and 26 sacks on 386 attempts. McCarron was sacked 22 times on 314 attempts. And Bama did not play Clowney! I think our line did well! And they and all backups all return. Do we want more?Always. Tunsel would be great as well as Max Garcia and Trenton Brown. But. We need defensive linemen much more!!!!M


January 10th, 2013
8:18 am

Sounds like an upgrade at this point. Garner was a piece of poop – offering late, not calling and staying in contact with recruits – makes you wonder if he already had two feet out the door!

Welcome Coach Wilson, welcome.


January 10th, 2013
8:38 am

Need depth on the “D” line to give the first liners some res. Hopefully, there will be some more recruiting with emphasis on JUCO’s for experience. The defense suffered from lack of depth in the championship game. The second half against Alabama was abominable. GO DAWGS!


January 10th, 2013
8:46 am

Special teams were much improved last season and the kicker got his extra point jitters corrected. Field goals are still a work in progress and I guess kick returns can always get better. Kick coverage was good and punting was good. Taylor is a freshman so don’t expect him to play like an All American. He will be good and all he needs is experience. Trivia question: What team gave up the 2nd most points to Bama by half time last season?

bill arp

January 10th, 2013
8:48 am

With a defense like Missy State had, I think if I were him, I wouldn’t be bragging on the fact the ‘I’ was the one calling the defense on game-day! I’d be saying, ‘oh no, I would’ve done it….’

Just sayin’.

On another note, I watched as much as I could stand of the BB game last night! Horrible! Can’t even get a shot off..


January 10th, 2013
9:18 am

Appreciate all the hardwork Coach Fox has brough to UGA…but the school probably needs to start looking elsewhere. Havent see any improvement with his team…year after year.

Players reflect their coach

January 10th, 2013
9:22 am

Gardner was passed over by CTG.He was ticked off and the entire world knows that.

THE now departed D players, MOSTLY were close to him. Look at how they played for two lousy years. They were always sloppy and not on the same page, beyond JARVIS, who is a team guy.

UGA will be fine on D this year, barring horrific injuries.

Junior Samples

January 10th, 2013
9:25 am

Enter your comments here


January 10th, 2013
9:30 am

Hmm, I wonder if we will be interested in Carl Lawson. And if Lawson will give us another look since Garner left.


January 10th, 2013
9:30 am

Recruiting is predicated on honesty by all parties. Take the example of the now committed to SC HUGE D lineman from the Woodstock area. ON TV HE COMMITS to UGA only to be told they would not accept that. HOW does this happen?? UGA’s recruiter was only giving him lip service expecting a bigger fish OR a kid that he personally liked. THAT is why GARNDER is now gone to the Barn.


January 10th, 2013
9:32 am

floriduh you can’t compare talent level of MSU to Bama.

Chris Mike

January 10th, 2013
9:41 am

i hope this guy can keep bid talent in state on the D-line such as the kid from gray son and M. Adams.

Joe Jenkins.

January 10th, 2013
9:42 am

Bama I think is cheating with steroids…..their is no way these guys can get so strong and big as freshmen. Unless the dawgs strength and conditioning program is just this bad and I don’t think so…..Bama is on the juice book it. Geathers get ready to be cut after training camp… are to weak


January 10th, 2013
9:53 am

Griffin has alredy tied to commit to the dawgs once and they turned him down. UGA is just not interested in him.

Sam Robards, Dawg Fan

January 10th, 2013
9:55 am

Columbus Dawg said:

“Grantham needs to take note, his defense will be expected to finally produce this year…”

Are you serious? Our defense was in the top five in the nation in 2011, and that’s not producing? Are you nuts? Yeah, they underperformed a bit this year, but they showed a toughness and ability to stiffen up that I hadn’t seen from any or Martinez’s defenses. That’s to say nothing about the HUGE increase in the number of defensive takeaways we’ve seen under Grantham.

If you ask me, Grantham has produced. Though I think we agree that this year’s defense needs to be far more stout against the run than last year’s. The pass defense was pretty good, I thought.

Go Dawgs!

joe jenkins

January 10th, 2013
10:00 am

Poor garner went home to coach the sorry tigers….he is a bum just like geathers. i love the georgia bulldogs but how long have we had a defense that has kept us from winning a championship. to damn long in my opinion.

Paul (I use my real name) Midler

January 10th, 2013
10:06 am

Welcome to UGA coach.

Ready for the season to start

January 10th, 2013
10:35 am

Garner being gone is one of the best things to happen to UGA football in a very long time. I got tired about two or three years ago of reading all the stories from the state’s biggest recruits saying that he never contacted them at all, didn’t keep in touch, or waited until a week before signing day to show interest.

I don’t think Bammer is on the juice. I do think that Saban is one heck of a coach who takes nutrition and the strength and conditioning program very seriously. I heard a story the other day where he tells his recruiters to bring him just one guy every year who is a team player and is ready to work his tail off to make Bammer the best team in the country. That kind of attitude permeates throughout the entire team. Saban is tough on his players, but they respond to it because they know if they listen they will win. Every player on the team is always in the right position and is always doing his job. It’s hard to argue with 3 out of 4 crystal footballs. Maybe we can get there soon.

Columbus Dawg

January 10th, 2013
10:38 am

Sam Robards, I agree, the pass defense was pretty solid, but the run D was terrible. Not just against Bama, but go back and look at how the run D got pushed around by Buffalo, Kentucky, ect. They get the run D tightened up there will be nothing but praise from this Dawg. If it does not get fixed however, then the rift will be back.


January 10th, 2013
11:15 am

Since RG is gone, is UGA still interested in 4* DT Kelsey Griffin?

Music City Dawg

January 10th, 2013
11:18 am

Glad to have you aboard Coach Wilson! Looking forward to you’re building the best defensive line in the country, Go DAWGS!!!

long-time dawg

January 10th, 2013
11:44 am

I think Coach Wilson is an excellent hire. Welcome Coach, and your family, to our family.

Dr. Don

January 10th, 2013
11:58 am

I have heard lots of rumors about the Tide players using HGH – $1500/month per player for that stuff. Hard to imagine it could be that widespread and still be go on undetected or undiscovered. More likely that their S/C program is far superior to ours.

What’s the verdict on coach T’s program now? Still seems like we are getting pushed around… a lot.

GB's Hamburgers

January 10th, 2013
12:09 pm

This looks like an excellent hire. I know he is glad to be out of that odd situation he was in in Starkville.
For UGA to go over the top, it’s going to take some really dominating offensive linemen. On defense, if we couldn’t stop anyone this year with the athletes we had, it doesn’t look good. I think it’s time to go back to the Dooley/Russell wide tackle 6. Something is not right with the current scheme.


January 10th, 2013
12:11 pm

Excited about all of the new fresh blood on D. Coach Wilson sounds excited to be a part of the program and that enthusiasm will roll over to the young players! I see our D being way better than most are projecting! J Taylor is a BEAST and he will make a huge impact at NG, believe that!


Jville Dawg

January 10th, 2013
12:29 pm

Love what I’m hearing from C.Wilson.

As far as how the D performed this year, I think the suspensions earlier in the season had a lot to do with our woes.

First you have two key players in Tree and Rambo that didn’t even take the field until game 4.
Second, you have guys that filled in for the suspended players that had to move to other positions once they returned.
Then you have an injury to Chase Vasser which caused further movement.

If you go back and look I believe we had 5 different starting lineups in the first 7 weeks of the season. That’s half the season folks. I know CTG and CMR tried to downplay the affect of the suspensions in the media, but it had a much greater affect on the continuity and consistency than they either realized or are willing to admit.

Plus outside of D. Swann, we don’t really have any proven/known superstars, so I think this bunch will be hungry and ready to prove themselves.

Remember folks, at the beginning of the season a lot of people thought the O-line would be a huge weakness and outside of the SC game, they performed exceptionally well.


January 10th, 2013
12:46 pm

10 new starters next year on D, and as far as stats go, no where but UP to go. I’m excited. The cupboard is NOT bare.


January 10th, 2013
1:07 pm

Wilson’s first call of order…get M Adams…T Johnson..check / wish they were interested in B Bradley than some of the other position players…we have enuff safeties…get B Bradley (flip from Auburn)….and a guarantee w/ T Johnson!! SOOOOOO glad that Rolly Polley Garner is gone…got lazy and complacent for years!!


January 10th, 2013
1:08 pm

As to question, don’t we need Olinemen more than Dline now, the answer is: We just lost our entire starting line up on D, and are returning our entire line on O. So, no, the immediate need is obviously to field a team which will still include having a defensive front line.

We actually have a lot more numbers on the Oline that folks seem to think. Numbers was never the issue. It was experience. We can list 2 deep on the oline, even before this news class (if) we get everybody going.

Experience was not the issue on this (past) Dline, it was numbers. It’s both now.


January 10th, 2013
1:17 pm

9 new starters with Garrison Smith and Damian Swann back. It’s not like the guys coming back have no experience at all. They’ve all had playing time. Amarlo Herrera, Ramik Wilson, Chase Vasser, Ray Drew, Corey Moore, Sheldon Dawson, Mike Thornton, Jordan Jenkins.


January 10th, 2013
1:20 pm

Josh Harvey-Clemons and Devin Bowman have also played. I also think you will see TJ Stripling step up big this year too.


January 10th, 2013
1:22 pm

We have 17 OL returning, (plus 3 more currently at snapper).

Not all are going to develop into SEC starters, but if half of them do (and that’s already true) we are not “thin” at O-line. That 2 deep, solidly. And 3 deep at positions with some cross over.

Add to that (2) 3 star OL on campus now, and (1) 4 star this summer. PLUS whoever we may snag before FEb.

So this talk of need more, need more. Where exactly are we going to put many more? We’re at at 22-25 or so in the fall right now.


January 10th, 2013
1:27 pm

Some OL recruits we were pining over a couple of years ago are about to face harsh reality and tough decisions of sitting the bench at UGA or transferring out

Cardiello and Tunsil and Kublanow will be 4 year starters beginning in 2014 after redshirting in 2013. Tunsil may be so good, he might play in 2013


January 10th, 2013
1:29 pm

We have maybe 5-6 Dlinemen that we can realistically go with in a SEC game, right now. We need some guys that can help in some capacity in thier first game waering a Georgia uniform.


January 10th, 2013
1:56 pm

Kublanow, will certainly not be short of nicknames.


January 10th, 2013
2:56 pm

While UGA will have less raw talent next year, I have high hopes for the defense. The entire roster for the first time is all guys who were recruited for the 3-4. Garrison Smith is a monster at DE (even a 3-4 DE, which is usually not a stat-heavy position). Jordan Jenkins is the real deal, as is Damian Swann and we have each of them 2 more years. Everything I’ve heard about Sheldon Dawson is that he is a freak athlete, we have a lot of potential for the other 2 DL spots (as noted in the article).

If we can find a couple of decent safeties, we’ll be in great shape since the offense should be one of the best in the country if Murray gets over his big-game nerves. The problem is that it takes some time for Safeties to develop (ask 2010 Shawn Williams and Bacarri Rambo who both looked like total busts early that year). I have high hopes for Harvey-Clemons, though.


January 10th, 2013
2:59 pm

I never bash Dawgs players, particularly young players, but lets just hope that Devin Bowman looks a LOT better in the G-Day game than he ever did out on the field this past year.

kauai dawg

January 10th, 2013
3:08 pm

Another key is…. he coached special teams at Oklahoma. Seems to be a GREAT hire.