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Dan Lanning is the defensive coordinator for Georgia.

Why Dan Lanning and the Georgia football defense are really set up to succeed in 2020

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Georgia football defensive coordinator Dan Lanning is poised for a big year

It didn’t take long for former Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker to climb the coaching ladder. A year ago, he was getting set to enter his first at Colorado, the first time in his career where he was the head coach of a program.

That opportunity came largely because of the work he did with Kirby Smart’s defense in Athens. Smart brought Tucker over from Alabama and he had been his defensive coordinator for Smart’s first three years in Athens. The Georgia defense led the Bulldogs to two SEC East titles and an appearance in the national championship game.

Tucker went 5-7 in his first year at Colorado, but the future appeared bright as he was able to put together a promising recruiting class. Those factors, along with his midwest ties were enough for Michigan State to double his salary and make him the next head coach for the Spartans.

And after a potentially strong 2020 season, the guy that replaced Tucker — Dan Lanning — could follow a similar path. Especially when factoring in how talented Georgia’s defensive unit might be this year.

Lanning arrived with very little fanfare from Memphis to replace Kevin Sherrer as outside linebackers coach after the 2017 season. But Lanning pretty quickly proved to be an asset, landing the likes of Nakobe Dean and Jermaine Johnson in the 2019 recruiting class. He was then promoted to defensive coordinator last off-season, with Glenn Schumann serving as the co-defensive coordinator.

Lanning though gets to be the face, the one making the calls on the sideline next to Smart on gameday. Lanning has a similar energy to that of Smart and it’s easy to see why he has the makings of a future head coach.

Related: From Elizabeth Street to Sanford Drive, the incredible journey of Georgia’s Dan Lanning

His energy, defensive background and recruiting acumen are likely to lead a future school to see Lanning as their own version of Smart.

“I get an opportunity to work with coach Smart every day, and for me that’s really exciting,” Lanning said prior to the Sugar Bowl.  “He’s a phenomenal coach. Since the first day I’ve got here, I’ve approached it like a guy that has a lot to learn.”

Lanning will now be entering his third year at Georgia and his second making the defensive calls. He’ll get to do it with perhaps the most talented defense of the Smart era, as the Bulldogs bring back a wealth of experience and talent on that side of the ball.

The Bulldogs do have to replace safety J.R. Reed, linebacker Tae Crowder and a number of rotational pieces on the defensive line. Lanning will just have to plug in the likes of Lewis Cine, Dean, Travon Walker and a handful of others promising defenders into the nation’s no. 1 scoring defense in the country.

There are still a few areas the Georgia defense could improve, such as sacks and tackles for loss. Lanning’s own position group, outside linebacker, will be tasked with making those plays. If Georgia’s defense can reach that final level of dominance, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see some school introducing Lanning as their next head coach come December.

Georgia fans also got a look to see what Lanning is like away from the field, as he recently posted a video of how he and his family were adjusting to the new normal following the COVID-19 outbreak.

Of course, Lanning isn’t the sole architect of Georgia’s defense, as Schumann has also been highly touted for his work with the defense. Inside linebacker Monty Rice called Schumann the smartest coach on Georgia’s staff.

“All those coaches have done a tremendous job,” Smart said. “Glenn Schumann is one of our co-defensive coordinators and he’s just as much game-planning as Dan does. He deserves just as much credit as Dan gets.

“Dan is just the guy that calls it on game day and he’s done a good job.”

As if to further demonstrate the partnership, Schumann also used his platform on Twitter to address how his family is handling things, just hours after Lanning did.

Should everything go according to plan and the Georgia defense is once again stout, Lanning will become an attractive head coaching target, even though he turns just 34 in April. He’ll have followed a path similar to Tucker. And Georgia will need a new defensive coordinator to follow in Tucker and Lanning’s footsteps. That guy is probably Schumann at this point.

Losing big-time assistants is all part of being an elite program. Nick Saban has been dealing with it for years. Ed Orgeron saw both his coordinators leave for superior jobs this offseason. Smart has to deal with all of it too, especially on the defensive side of the ball with it being his strong suit.

Lanning figures to be the biggest benefit of all that. Being the face, the guy screaming and signaling on the sideline, on one of the top defenses in the country certainly has its pressures. But it also has its perks, and Lanning figures to be in the position to benefit from those in the 2020 season.

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