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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Eason Adjusting to New Role

It has been almost 40 years since John Eason's first coaching job at a high school in Ocala, Fla. Since then, he has spent nearly every fall on a football field with a playbook in hand. This spring, Eason is still soaking in the atmosphere at Georgia's practices, but the playbook is gone, along with the stress of preparing his troops for battle and, in truth, a lot of the excitement that used to come with the job.

"One thing I know I'm going to miss is you get an adrenaline rush on the sideline on game day, and that's the thing I'm going to miss -- just being actively in the game itself," Eason said.

Eason came aboard at Georgia with head coach Mark Richt in 2001 as the team's wide receivers coach, and he has seen the likes of Reggie Brown, Fred Gibson and Mohamed Massaquoi develop under his leadership. This offseason, however, Eason accepted an administrative role with the team, moving from the field to the front office, with former running backs coach Tony Ball taking over Eason's old job with the receivers.

"It makes it easier because (Ball) and I talk from time to time," Eason said. "I have a chance to talk with Mike (Bobo) and the good thing about the offense, I come out here and I don't have a play script. I just watch them go against the defense."

It's sort of bittersweet for Eason. He's still close enough to spend his afternoons on the practice field, and he's still involved enough to chat with the current assistant coaches about the offense, but he knows that's no longer his role. Learning to watch players like A.J. Green and Michael Moore blossom without him won't be easy, he said, but he's learning to be comfortable with his new job.

"It's a little bit of an adjustment, just coming out and watching spring practice and not being actively involved," Eason said. "You want to see the wide receivers work, but you want to stay away because you sometimes want to yell out and say something. I know it's going to take me a little time to make the adjustment."

Of course, there are other adjustments to be made, too. Eason's new job as director of football operations means that, instead of helping his players develop into stars, he's now looking out for the coaching staff. While he doesn't have any major changes planned in his new role, he does hope to spend his days making life a bit simpler for the men he used to share a playbook with.

"I'm just trying to do some things to make the coaches' lives easier," Eason said, "because I've been in that position before."

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