Scott Lakatos has spent his entire coaching career learning from new Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. Now, the two finally will have a chance to work together.
Lakatos, most recently on Connecticut’s staff, was hired Monday as Georgia’s new defensive backs coach after meeting head coach Mark Richt just a few days earlier — and after knowing Grantham for nearly 16 years.
“Just over time, we’ve always stayed in contact,” Lakatos said. “We have similar ideas, similar philosophies, and finally had an opportunity to work together. I’m pretty excited about it.”
While Grantham replaces Willie Martinez as the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator, Lakatos takes over Martinez’s position-coaching duties in the secondary, a job he has held for the past six seasons at Connecticut and also has worked at Rutgers, Maine and Syracuse.
Lakatos’ UConn team ranked at the bottom of the Big East in passing defense last season, allowing 236 yards per game through the air, but his previous seasons were far more successful.
In 2008, the Huskies ranked ninth nationally in pass-efficiency defense and were in the top 25 nationally in passing defense in each season from 2004-2008. Lakatos also has helped to produce NFL talent such as New England’s Darius Butler and Oakland’s Tyvon Branch.
“We’re very pleased that Scott has accepted the offer to join our defensive staff,” Richt said in a news release from the school. “He has an outstanding resume of success over the course of his career and will bring a great deal of experience and expertise to our coaching staff.”
Lakatos’ new deal is a one-year contract that will pay him $180,000.
This marks Lakatos’ first job outside of the Northeast. A native of New Jersey, Lakatos played at Western Connecticut under Paul Pasqualoni, who, it turns out, replaced Grantham as the defensive line coach with the Dallas Cowboys. Lakatos worked with Pasqualoni at Syracuse as a graduate assistant. When fellow coach Phil Elmassion left the Orangemen for Virginia Tech, Lakatos was introduced to Grantham, who already was working on the Hokies’ staff.
The two kept in contact for another decade-and-a-half. So when the opportunity arose for them to finally work together, Lakatos jumped at the chance.
Despite the familiarity he will have with Georgia’s new defensive coordinator, the rest will be a big change for Lakatos, who said he is “definitely the new guy” and has yet to meet any other members of the Bulldogs’ staff.
One thing he isn’t concerned with, however, is how he will relate to recruits in the Southeast, despite his ties to the North.
“Where I’m from vs. who I’m talking to — when you present the opportunities you can gain by going to a school like Georgia, I think all those things are less important,” he said. “It’s more important that I can help prospective athletes make decisions.”
Lakatos said he expects to start doing just that by Thursday, but he won’t likely arrive in Athens and begin meeting his current players until Wednesday night.
The job ahead won’t be an easy one for him. Georgia’s secondary allowed 25 passing touchdowns last season, had just 10 interceptions on the season, finished ninth in the conference in pass defense and will need to replace three of its four starters from 2009.
The solution, Lakatos said, is in establishing the fundamentals, and that will be a cornerstone in his coaching philosophy.
“I think you put yourself in position by being fundamentally sound, and that’s one of the things I bring to the table with those guys on the back end,” Lakatos said. “It’s just really for those guys to master the technique that we’re asking them to play and to be fundamentally sound, that when it comes time in the game to have the opportunity to run, to make a play, to make an interception, to strip a ball or pick up a loose ball, fundamentally we’re prepare from practice through reps and emphasis and those things.”