Replacing Rodney Garner is Richt’s No. 1 priority after bowl game

ORLANDO, Fla. — Georgia held its second bowl practice without Rodney Garner on Wednesday night. The defensive line coach was hired by Auburn a week ago.

Coach Mark Richt said hiring Garner’s replacement will be “priority one,” after the bowl game. He confirmed that instead of moving someone on staff, the hire will be a defensive line coach.

“We’ll be excited about who’s next,” Richt said. “I’m getting bombarded by a lot of people who are very interested in the opportunity. So we won’t have any trouble hiring a very quality person where Rodney was.”

In the meantime, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will oversee the defensive line as well as coach the outside linebackers. Grantham coached the defensive line in the NFL for Dallas, Houston and Indianapolis.

“We’ve got some graduate assistant coaches, too, who can also step in and help us in that regard,” Richt said. “The plan is in and most of the work’s been done. There are still some things that Coach Grantham will have to keep an eye on, maybe a little bit more than when Coach Garner was here, but it shouldn’t be a problem.”

Linebacker Christian Robinson said graduate assistants Mike Kelly and Mike Macdonald are able to free Grantham up to work with the defensive line.

Richt said he has not made a decision on whether he’ll name someone as recruiting coordinator, a role that Garner had.

“I don’t even know if we’ll need to do that,” Richt said. “I’ll be debating and trying to decide what’s in the best interest of everything, but we’ve got our in-house recruiting team and a lot of those things are going to be taken care of, things that need to get done administratively.”

Georgia hired Daryl Jones to a newly created position of director of on-campus recruiting last May.

“Things were already starting to change when we brought Daryl in, and lightening Rodney’s load, basically,” Richt said. “It is a tough job for a guy to do that full-time and coach.”

Richt said special teams aren’t likely to factor into the new hire.

“It could, but more than likely not,” Richt said.

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