Candidates to fill the 3 open positions at Georgia

Posted by: Pete Roussel on Thursday January 16, 2014

Head coaches are paid to make big decisions and no decision is more important than selecting the right assistant coaches.

Mark Richt arguably made the best hire of the off-season to this point when he convinced Jeremy Pruitt to leave Florida State for the defensive coordinator job at Georgia.

Richt, however, has three more positions to fill on his staff due to the departures of Chris Wilson to USC (first reported by CoachingSearch), Kirk Olivadotti to the Washington Redskins, and the resignation of defensive backs coach Scott Lakatos.

Richt has indicated that he may hire a special teams coordinator.

Considering that Pruitt will coach the secondary and that his grad assistant George Helow is likely to follow Pruitt from Tallahassee to assist with the secondary, who could Richt target?

Here's my guess:

Defensive line candidates: Tracy Rocker (former Tennessee Titans), Chris Kiffin (Ole Miss), Terry Price (Texas A&M), Ed Orgeron (former USC head coach)

Linebacker candidates: Kevin Sherrer (South Alabama defensive coordinator), Tyson Summers (UCF), Randy Shannon (Arkansas), John Thompson (former Arkansas State defensive coordinator)

Linebacker / special teams coordinator candidates: Charles Kelly (FSU), Manny Diaz (former Texas and Mississippi State defensive coordinator), Tyson Summers (UCF)

With the change-over in staff at Tennessee, new head coach Ken Whisenhunt did not retain a number of coaches including Tracy Rocker, who spent the last three seasons coaching the Titans’ defensive line. Rocker previously helped Auburn win a national championship in 2010. He coached at Arkansas from 2003-2007, at Ole Miss in 2008, and at Auburn from 2009-2010.

Richt is well-aware of Chris Kiffin’s ability to recruit.  A year ago, 5-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil narrowed his choices to Georgia and Ole Miss. Tunsil surprisingly signed with Ole Miss, in large part to the phenomenal recruiting job by Kiffin.

You can bet veteran SEC defensive line coach Terry Price would listen if Richt called.  Price just finished his second year at Texas A&M.  He previously coaches at Ole Miss and Auburn. 

Somebody…. I don’t know who …. is going to call Ed Orgeron.  Would Richt reach out to Coach O? 

Kevin Sherrer spent three season with Jeremy Pruitt at Alabama. 

Tyson Summer once served as a grad assistant at UGA under Richt.  Summers served as the defensive coordinator for UCF in the Knights’ Fiesta Bowl win over Baylor.  He has special teams experience, as well.

If Bret Bielema doesn’t promote Randy Shannon to defensive coordinator (which I hear he isn’t going to do), don’t be surprised if Shannon contacts Richt.

Former Texas and Mississippi State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz also coached linebackers at both places. 

Charles Kelly did a phenomenal job as the special teams coordinator under Chan Gailey at Georgia Tech and did a terrific job this season for Jimbo Fisher.  It can’t hurt that he also coached linebackers at FSU this season.  This makes a lot of sense.

Don’t rule out veteran coach John Thompson, who spent the last couple of years as the defensive coordinator at Arkansas State under Gus Malzahn and Bryan Harsin.  

Stay tuned to the Coaching Search Ticker.

Pete Roussel is a valuable resource for coaches, athletic directors, NFL front-office personnel, and college football enthusiasts. A former college football coach, Roussel shares insight on coaches 365 days a year and is recognized as the most trusted expert on coaching transactions. Follow @CoachingSearch on twitter and send your feedback to pete@coachingsearch.comtest