ATHENS — Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning has turned down the Texas defensive coordinator and will stay with the Bulldogs.
— Dan Lanning (@CoachDanLanning) January 16, 2021
There were reports earlier on Friday that Lanning had emerged as a favorite to join the Longhorns staff and work for new Texas coach and former Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.
Georgia’s defense has led the nation in run defense each of the past two seasons under Lanning’s direction.
Lanning, 34, was hired to replace former UGA DC and current Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker following the 2018 season.
Lanning has been a rising star in the coaching ranks and was considered for Memphis Tigers’ head coaching position after last season.
Coach Kirby Smart made Lanning the Bulldogs’ highest-paid assistant coach after last season, going from $750,000 to $1.25 million after the team led the nation in scoring defense and run defense and finished third in total defense and eighth in pass efficiency defense. All this, without a first-team All-SEC selection, per an AP voting panel in 2019.
Still, Lanning is a bargain when one considers Auburn paid its former defensive coordinator Kevin Steele $2.5 million last season, and LSU paid defensive coordinator Bo Pelini $2.28 million.
Texas A&M DC Mike Elko ($2.1 million) and Florida’s Todd Grantham ($1.8 million) made more than Lanning, too, despite results that suggest the young UGA DC should be paid more.
Georgia ranked second in the SEC this season in scoring defense (20 points per game), even after losing preseason All-American safety and team captain Richard LeCounte to what were essentially season-ending injuries suffered in a Halloween Night motorcycle crash.
The Bulldogs also saw defensive tackle Julian Rochester go down with a season-ending knee injury in the Oct. 31 game at Kentucky, and senior middle linebacker Monty Rice was limited by a foot injury half the season.
Lanning’s return bodes well for a defense that will be rebuilding on the back end, where six former starting defensive backs have moved on to the NFL or transferred:
• FS Richard LeCounte
• CB Tyson Campbell
• CB Eric Stokes
• CB DJ Daniel
• DB Mark Webb
• DB Tyrique Stevenson
The good news for Lanning and the Bulldogs is that nose tackle Jordan Davis and defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt announced they are returning to help anchor the run-stuffing defensive line.
Davis and Wyatt have been part of a “#runitback” theme that Lanning has adapted in his social media message announcing his return to help lead the team toward what they hope is a championship campaign in 2021.