Here's one thing we know about our new linebackers coach, his name will NOT be Travis Jones. Georgia Bulldog fans had started to whisper quietly that the timing of the final hire might just coincide with the end of the Super Bowl on Sunday.
Well, as Lee Corso loves to say—"Not so fast my friend"! Coach Grantham has pulled the okie doke on us and hired a guy who was, literally, right under our nose.
Warren Belin has been coaching at SEC Eastern Division rival, Vanderbilt for the last eight seasons. In that time he has churned out some impressive players at the linebacker position. Guys whose names might seem foreign to you by just their mere mention but who, nevertheless, have made the Vanderbilt defense more formidable in recent years.
Belins's career began at William & Mary but his most notable stint, prior to his hire at Vanderbilt, was the five seasons he spent coaching at Southern Methodist University (SMU). He served as their linebacker coach from 1997-2001 and worked with new Tennessee coach, Derek Dooley, as an assistant recruiting coordinator starting in 1998.
During his time at SMU, he turned both Jason Simonton and Chris Bordano into All-Conference players. Like the Scott Lakatos hire before him, Belin brings with him the pedigree of being able to maximize the talent on his roster.
Current Vanderbilt sophomore, Chris Marve, has recorded triple-digit tackles in each of his two seasons as a starter. He was rated as a two-star player (Rivals) out of high school but still got looks from a bevy of SEC schools, including Alabama and Ole Miss, before deciding to attend Vanderbilt.
Belin is a tireless recruiter who is not afraid to find the guys who may be flying under the radar. Once he makes contact with a prospect, he does a phenomenal job of not letting them stray too far from his grasp.
The one knock on Georgia in recruiting this year's class was the lack of attention given to key talent within the state. The Dawgs did not do as good a job at prioritizing their targets and sustaining the connection for the entirety of the process.
The hiring of Belin will, hopefully, close any holes that have begun to form in Georgia's recruiting methods. Even more, with Belin's obvious talents in recruiting both the State of Tennessee and the State of Texas, perhaps it leaves open the possibility of bringing in more diverse talent on both sides of the ball.
In addition to performing the duties of linebacker coach, Belin also took over as Vanderbilt's special teams coordinator in 2006. In his first season at the helm, the Commodores went from 87th in the nation in punt return yardage allowed (11.47) to 17th in the nation (allowing 5.94 yards per return).
A great deal of that success came from Belin's targeted recruiting approach. He was instrumental in helping coach Johnson find the kinds of guys on defense who had the skill to be key contributors on special teams immediately.
His familiarity with the 3-4 is not yet known but he obviously was able to make quite an impression on both coach Grantham and coach Richt with what he can and will bring to the table.
I like the hire, personally. I think that coach Belin fills another glaring need in both the recruiting and the coaching philosophy at Georgia. He may not be the splashy hire that some fans were looking for but if he turns out to be as good as his resume suggests, that won't matter.