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Kirby Smart banks on fit in hiring of Stacy Searels as offensive line coach
We’ve heard Kirby Smart talk a lot about fit this offseason. Whether it be players or coaches, Smart wants both to mesh with the identity the Georgia head coach continues to create.
For all that new offensive line coach Stacy Searels is, he fits the vision Smart has continued to cultivate this offseason.
The offensive line play under Georgia has evolved greatly from the first time Searels coached the Bulldogs, as it has more often than not been a strength for Georgia since Smart took over the program in 2016. Searels will have to continue to keep it that way going forward.
That starts on the recruiting trail, where the Bulldogs currently hold two 2023 commitments in 4-star tackle Bo Hughley and 3-star guard prospect Ryqueze McElderry. Luke made it a habit of signing elite offensive linemen in his time in Athens, something former Georgia offensive line coach Sam Pittman did as well. In the last three recruiting cycles, Georgia landed seven offensive line prospects who were among the top 100 overall players in their respective recruiting class.
Related: How Will Muschamp became Georgia’s most interesting assistant coach
Searels spent the past three seasons coaching with Mack Brown at North Carolina. His biggest recruiting win by far came when the Tar Heels signed 5-star prospect Zach Rice in the 2022 recruiting cycle, as Rice rated as the No. 1 offensive tackle in the country. So he’s at least shown the ability to go out and land an impact player on the recruiting trail. Having a power G on your chest likely helps a lot in that aspect as well.
The new Georgia offensive line coach has crisscrossed the country since his last stop in Athens, coaching at Texas, Virginia Tech and Miami in addition to his time at North Carolina. But perhaps his most important stop actually came before his first time in Athens.
Searels was the offensive line coach at LSU from 2003 through 2006. During that stay in Baton Rouge, Searels’ time overlapped with that of Smart and Will Muschamp. The latter worked at LSU from 2001 through 2004, while the former was the defensive backs coach at LSU for the 2004 season.
That prior experience both with Smart and Georgia factored into Searels getting the job. He’s the third offensive coach hired this offseason if you include Mike Bobo, who will serve as an offensive analyst All three — wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon is the third — previously coached at Georgia and also have prior experience working with Muschamp.
Tight ends coach Todd Hartley also has prior experience working with Searels, as the two were both on Mark Richt’s staff at Miami from 2016 to 2018. Like the three others he is also from the state of Georgia, as is running backs coach Dell McGee. As it stands, Todd Monken is the only offensive on-field assistant that is not from the state of Georgia.
One thing about Luke that we don’t really know is his level of involvement in the Georgia offense. Given his salary — $900,000 for this coming season — he likely had some say in how things operated offensively. It’s worth wondering with Luke now gone and Searels stepping in how much more of an influence and say Monken will have on the offense as a whole. Monken received a small raise earlier this offseason, but a National Championship-winning offensive coordinator should make more than $1.25 million.