ATHENS — The winningest and most famous current head coach in pro football walked quietly on and off Georgia’s football field on Wednesday, a backpack slung over one shoulder, looking nondescript in tennis shoes, a polo shirt and cargo shorts.
Bill Belichick was the biggest name at UGA’s Pro Day, but didn’t make a big deal of it, befitting his reputation. He even paused to take a selfie with a Georgia staffer on the way off the field, going a bit against his cantankerous reputation.
Still, this was a work trip for the New England Patriots head coach, who unearthed one starter off last year’s team, and was clearly seeking another.
Last year it was center David Andrews, who Belichick worked out in Athens, then signed as an undrafted free agent. Andrews went on to start the first 10 games at center.
This year Georgia has a number of prospects likely to be drafted, headlined by outside linebackers Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins, as well as receiver Malcolm Mitchell. But the Patriots have also succeeded through the years by filling out their roster with overlooked players, and Belichick could be seen taking notes on inside linebacker Jake Ganus – who like Andrews last year, didn’t receive an invite to the NFL combine.
“I saw him standing and watching me, taking notes,” Ganus said. “So hopefully he was writing good stuff.”
Belichick also chatted up first-year Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, who about a decade ago visited the Patriots and Belichick to study their ways. Smart came away with the mantra “Do your job,” which he’s brought to Athens.
There were representatives from all 32 NFL teams, according to UGA. Among the other notable faces seen at Georgia’s Pro Day:
- Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Tom Dimitroff. In fact the Falcons brought 11 staffers to the pro day, and many of them were watching closely as kicker Marshall Morgan kicked off.
- Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan and his twin brother Rob, now a Bills staffer. The Ryan brothers have come to a lot of UGA pro days in the past.
- New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles.
- New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese.
- Jim Haslett, the former New Orleans Saints head coach, who is now a linebackers coach for the Cincinnati Bengals.
- Justin Scott-Wesley, the former Georgia receiver who gave up football last year due to chronic knee problems.
- Mark Fox, taking a break from preparation for that night’s NIT game, stopped by and spent some time chatting with Brian Schottenheimer and Georgia deputy A.D. Carla Williams.