ATLANTA – Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham subbed for Mark Richt at Wednesday night’s UGA Day speaking event at the Marriott Buckhead Hotel & Conference Center, which gave host Chuck Dowdle the chance to introduce him to fans.
“Certainly, Georgia’s defense has been among the premier in the country since this man came in and took over,” Dowdle said. “It’s been a pleasure to watch, unless of course you’re Will Muschamp and can’t figure out a way to get in the end zone.”
In a way, this was a nod to Tuesday night, when Muschamp vowed at a function in Jacksonville, Fla., that Georgia’s streak in the series would end soon.
“It's not going to be a long winning streak, I can assure you,” said Muschamp, according to the Gainesville (Fla.) Sun. “We feel very comfortable.”
Grantham was asked by reporters about Muschamp’s comments prior to Wednesday’s speaking engagement and smiled in response.
“I mean, what do you expect him to say at a Gator function?” Grantham said. “Will is a guy that I know personally. I think he's done a great job at Florida. I think he's very competitive, as we all are as coaches. He's a guy that wants to win. I think he's just really trying to fire up the people in Jacksonville.”
Grantham said as of “right now” that he expects all of Georgia’s defensive signees not yet enrolled to make it to campus as planned in early June.
One of them, linebacker Leonard Floyd, is already enrolled in classes after graduating from Virginia’s Hargrave Military Academy earlier this year.
“He's a guy that has really worked his tail off to get here,” Grantham said of Floyd. “I've got a lot of respect for the things that he's done to achieve the goal of coming here. I think he's a guy that can make an immediate impact in the outside positions. We look forward to seeing what he can do. Physically, he can play. He's an athlete. He's tall. He's rangy. So we're excited to try to get him in the mix.”
Johnson ready to go
Junior college defensive tackle Toby Johnson reported earlier this week that he had the grades to be able to enroll at UGA in June as well.
Johnson has been recovering from knee surgery in November, and Grantham said UGA trainer Ron Courson “was ecstatic about his progress and where he was” in April, meaning Johnson has a good chance to play this fall.
"Everything is very encouraging right now,” Grantham told fans. “He's definitely a talented guy. ... We're certainly going to give him the opportunity to compete for playing time when he gets here."
Asked about other players set to enroll soon, Grantham said he was particular eager to see his new defensive backs in action.
“Shaq Fluker is a guy I'm really excited about,” Grantham said. “KJ Johnson, both those guys are JUCO guys, I think, that can have an immediate impact. Brendan Langley is a guy that has worked his tail off to try to learn our system on his own. Obviously, Quincy (Mauger) being here has been able to help him, since they were teammates. Shaq Wiggins is a guy that I think has got some ability. It will be interesting to see what he can do. ... I really look forward to all of them but particularly the defensive backs.
Grantham said that linebacker Chase Vasser, who missed spring while recovering from shoulder surgery late last year, has been cleared to participate in the offseason strength program and should be fine for preseason.
“Now it's just a matter of him getting the muscle and weight gain back,” Grantham said of Vasser. “May, June and July are three big months for him.”
The process to formally hire recently departed UGA linebacker Christian Robinson as a graduate assistant is underway but not completed yet, according to Grantham.
“It's not official. He's got to go through the process,” Grantham said. “Certainly, if we can clear everything, he's a guy that I think the world of. ... I think he can be a dynamic coach.”
Switching to basketball, UGA coach Mark Fox updated the ongoing search to replaced departed assistant coach Kwanza Johnson. Fox said he’d like to have a hire in place in time for the start of summer classes in early June.
“We'll look for the best total package we can get,” Fox said, “a guy who can recruit, a guy who has the knowledge and connections to make us better, a guy who can teach the game. We need a good man who can mentor young men. That's important to us.”
Fox said support staffer and former UGA player Jonas Hayes is under consideration for Johnson’s old spot. Additionally, Fox reported that Jonas’ brother Jarvis Hayes, a former NBA first-round pick, is back on campus now taking classes, though Jarvis may continue to try to play overseas and extend his career on the court.
Fox's new class
Three of Fox’s four 2013 signees are expected on campus in early June, the coach said. The fourth, JUCO signee Cameron Forte, still has to take one more class that he originally planned to take in May but it was cancelled for a lack of interest, a situation that was “totally out of his control.”
“He now is taking it in June,” Fox said, “so he won't be on campus until the second term, which is the first week of July.”