Georgia football stalks Florida talent with new coaches

The restocked Georgia football staff has Florida high school talent on its mind.

Georgia football head coach Kirby Smart watched top assistants leave in December and January. He responded by tightening the focus of his staff.

That focus is Florida high school talent.

Offensive coordinator James Coley

James Coley now owns the keys to the big red offensive machine. While rising junior quarterback Jake Fromm will benefit, Coley’s ascension to offensive coordinator is about more than coaching. It’s about Florida football talent

Coley is a Miami native and FSU graduate. He coached in Miami high schools, at Florida State, Miami, and the Miami Dolphins. Before arriving in Athens, his only time outside of Florida was a year as a graduate assistant at LSU.

Coley is in Athens not just because he can coach. He is in Athens because he can recruit the state of Florida.

Tight ends coach Todd Hartley

With Jim Chaney’s departure, Georgia football hired Todd Hartley off the University of Miami staff to coach tight ends. The swap will be a huge net plus for Georgia recruiting.

After coaching at West Virginia and Marshall, Hartley worked at Georgia as a defensive analyst and director of player personnel. He followed Mark Richt to Miami as tight end coach and built a reputation as an ace recruiter and an outstanding special teams coordinator.

Like Coley, Hartley is an excellent coach, but he is in Athens because he is a great recruiter – one that knows well the fertile Florida talent fields.

Secondary Coach Charlton Warren

Two may be a coincidence, but three is a trend. The most recent Georgia football hire confirms the “recruit Florida” trend.

Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker left to take the head coaching job at Colorado, and Charlton Warren will fill his his defensive back coaching role. Warren is an Atlanta native, and he appears to be a perfect fit for the job of defensive back coach – so perfect he didn’t interview with Smart before being hired.

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A career path paved with success

Dubbed “Mr. Intensity” while playing at the Air Force Academy,  Warren has been an agent for dramatic improvement where ever he has worked.

Nebraska hired Warren in 2014, and the Cornhuskers ranked fifth in pass efficiency the following year.

North Carolina hired Warren in 2015, and the Tar Heels had the most improved pass defense nationally in efficiency and yards per a‚ttempt. In 2016, his North Carolina defense ranked 12 nationally in passing yards allowed per game, and both Tar Heel cornerbacks earned All-ACC honors at North Carolina.

Tennessee hired Warren in 2017, and despite significant injuries, allowed the second-fewest passing yards per game in the SEC.

At Florida in 2018, the Gators defense went from 81 ranked in the nation in 2017  to tied for 11 ranked.

Gator poaching: legal in Athens

And now, Warren comes to Georgia from Florida. He will bring Florida talent with him, and maybe sooner than later. Florida defensive back target Kaiir Elam from North Palm Beach, FL, a strong Gator lean, visited Georgia Friday. While he was in Athens, Georgia announced the hiring of Warren. Warren was the Gators’ primary recruiter for Elam, and the Gators are not pleased.

Expect Elam to sign with the Bulldogs.

Next: Bulldogs staff still lacking defensive coordinator

Georgia football will always recruit Georgia first and last, but there’s a big Bulldog bullseye on the nearby talent in the panhandle state.

Expect Kirby Smart’s new coaches to bring that talent home to Athens.