During the next few weeks, we'll no doubt be parsing a lot of what Todd Grantham said in his opening remarks to the media and sifting through his background to try to get a better understanding of just who it is that Georgia hired to take over its defense.
So far, the reaction from fans has been overwhelmingly positive -- which is certainly no surprise. I'll admit, making a guy who hasn't coached in college football since 1998 the third-highest-paid assistant in the nation might be a bit of a reach in my humble opinion, and we have no idea how the current personnel on the Bulldogs' defense will respond as part of a 3-4 set, but there's definitely a lot more positives to be talking about today than negatives. (And, to be fair, I'd have essentially the same questions about Kirby Smart had he been hired -- limited experience, drastic change in scheme, etc.)
As I noted here last week, I think there's a tremendous amount of upside to this hire, particularly on the recruiting trail. Now, we don't exactly know how Grantham will recruit since it's not something he has done in more than a decade, but if you read any of what he said yesterday, you can probably get an understanding of why players would want to come play for him.
And as I went back through what Grantham said yesterday, there is one thing that jumped out to me. Knowing his stint as DC in Cleveland met with mixed results, I wanted to know his thoughts on how he might handle this job differently. The first thing he discussed was how rebuilding in college football was so much easier because of recruiting. Here's the specific quote:
"The difference between pro football and college football is when you go to a program in pro football, you basically get seven draft picks. So you get seven recruits. That's a major overhaul. In college ball, you can go out and sign as many first-round picks as you need. You just have to do the work."Music to the ears of any football fan who lives and dies with each new recruiting commitment, right?
You don't know the half of it.
Since Grantham wants to go out and sign a half-dozen future first-round picks, I figured I'd go back and see just how many of them Georgia has had since Mark Richt arrived in Athens in 2001. The results of this small bit of history underscore the recent problems.
2006-2010 First-Round Picks, Defense
LSU (3) -- Tyson Jackson (DE), Glenn Dorsey (DT), LaRon Landry (DB)
Tennessee (6) -- Robert Ayers (DE), Jerod Mayo (LB), Justin Harrell (DT), Jason Allen (DB), Eric Berry* (DB), Dan Williams* (DT)
Florida (6) -- Derrick Harvey (DE), Jarvis Moss (DE), Reggie Nelson (DB), Joe Haden* (DB), Carlos Dunlap* (DE), Brandon Spikes* (LB)
Georgia (0) -- None
(*Projected first-round pick by ESPN's Mel Kiper)
2002-2005 First-Round Picks, Defense
LSU (1) -- Marcus Spears (DE)
Tennessee (2) -- John Henderson (DT), Albert Haynesworth (DT)
Florida (1) -- Lito Shephard (DB)
Georgia (4) -- Thomas Davis (DB), David Pollack (DE), Johnathan Sullivan (DT), Charles Grant (DE)
Since Willie Martinez's first season as defensive coordinator, Georgia has not had a single player taken in the first round of the NFL draft. Florida, Tennessee and LSU meanwhile have combined for 15, including this year's projections.
Turning that tide will begin on the recruiting trail, and Grantham will have his work cut out for him. But at least he's aiming high -- which at $750,000 a year, he should be.