ATHENS — Kirby Smart is finally “100 percent Dawg,” and so is Glenn Schumann … and Mel Tucker.
As the trio flew from Arizona to Georgia on Tuesday morning, their new school officially announced what had long been assumed and reported: Tucker is Georgia’s new defensive coordinator.
The announcement only stated that Tucker will be defensive coordinator, and did not mention what position he would coach. He has been a secondary coach at Alabama and prior to that in the NFL.
Just before the announcement came a picture from a plane on Tuesday morning: Tucker, wearing a Georgia shirt, on a plane headed to Athens. It came from the account of Schumann, another now-former Alabama assistant who is headed to Athens. And it was re-tweeted by Smart himself.
Tucker’s hiring had been a foregone conclusion for some time, though he and Smart declined to officially acknowledge it, even after Monday night’s win. They wanted to enjoy Alabama’s national championship and then, as Tucker put it, “move on to the next thing.”
Tucker was at Alabama for one year, after a long career in the NFL, including the last seven as a defensive coordinator. Tucker had stints as a DC with three teams, and he was also the interim head coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars the final five games of the 2012 season.
Tucker’s first defensive coordinator job came with the Cleveland Browns in 2008, when he replaced the fired Todd Grantham.
The best year for Tucker’s defense in the NFL came in 2011, when the Jaguars ranked sixth in the league in total defense, at 313.0 yards per game. But his defenses in Jacksonville and Chicago finished ranked 30th each year from 2012-14.
Tucker is another member of the Nick Saban tree, having served on his staff at Michigan State as a graduate assistant in 1997 and 1998. He also worked with Saban at LSU in 2000, before going on to Ohio State for three seasons, where Tucker won a national championship in 2002 and became co-defensive coordinator in 2004.
A native of the Midwest, Tucker was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and was a defensive back at Wisconsin.
Schumann’s position group has also yet to be defined, nor has Kevin Sherrer’s. Schumann was an off-field defensive analyst at Alabama, while Sherrer spent the past two years as Georgia’s outside linebackers coach, though he moved over to coaching the inside linebackers in Georgia’s bowl game. But the Tucker announcement means that all positions on Smart’s staff have been filled. Only the defensive roles have yet to be sorted out, or at least they’re not announced yet.
Smart, or whoever is running his Twitter account, was also busy on Tuesday morning, tweeting out official welcomes to the six early enrollees who joined the program on Monday. That included five-star quarterback Jacob Eason.