ATHENS, Ga. — Brandon Boykin didn’t know much about his new defensive coordinator, but a quick phone call to his cousin — Dallas Cowboys running back Tashard Choice — earned Todd Grantham a ringing endorsement.
Darryl Gamble admits he doesn’t know much about the new 3-4 scheme Grantham is bringing to Georgia’s defense, but he’ll be watching his new coach on the sidelines of Dallas’ playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings this weekend hoping to get a jump start on the learning process.
The truth is, Grantham remains a bit of a mystery to Georgia’s players after being announced as the Bulldogs’ new defensive coordinator Friday, but they’re ready to start learning more about him.
“It was a relief at first after things were up in the air and we were hearing a lot of different names in the media,” Gamble said of Georgia’s six-week search for a new defensive coordinator. “Coach Grantham came in and I got the word (Friday) morning and it was a relief to finally know who was going to be my coach. I’m very excited for him to get here and to work with him.”
Boykin received a text message late Thursday night letting him know Grantham had been hired, but he’s still waiting to learn who his position coach will be in the secondary.
Grantham will take over the linebackers, where he’ll be teaching a new 3-4 scheme to the front seven that have little to no experience in the system.
“I haven’t played in it, but I’ve seen a lot of it in the NFL, and it’s a pretty aggressive defense,” Gamble said. “A lot of good pass rushers come out of the 3-4, and from what I’ve seen it’s been very productive in getting guys to the ball.”
So while the scheme is a bit of a mystery, Gamble is excited for the opportunity to try something new.
And opportunities should be plentiful now that Grantham is in charge.
“I really believe the best way to go about it is you rank your players, you evaluate your players… .”
one through 50 and you find a way to get your top players on the field,” Grantham said. “To be an aggressive, attacking style defense, to make plays, you have to have playmakers, and you have to put those playmakers in position to make plays.”
That music to Boykin’s ears — even though he was already an established starter at cornerback for the Bulldogs.
A new coach means a new beginning for everyone on the team – from starters like Boykin to backups hoping to make a move up the depth chart and set aside past mistakes.
“It’ll be a fresh start for everybody, and I think that’s good. People who didn’t necessarily play that much last year and wanted to play more, this is a chance for them to prove themselves and get on the field,” Boykin said. “And for the players who got to play last year and got some experience, it’s another chance for them to re-prove themselves and get them motivated.”
Along with the new system and a fresh start, Grantham also brings some impressive credentials to the Bulldogs’ defense.
Gamble said he’ll be rooting for Grantham’s Dallas Cowboys in Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game, and he’s anxious to get a chance to learn from someone who knows what it takes to be successful in the NFL.
“It’s a good thing having the experience of an NFL coach come in so he can critique you on what you need to do to be prepared,” Gamble said. “I think that’s a good thing for me and the rest of the guys on defense to try to get ready for the NFL. That’s the goal of each guy.”