ATHENS – There’s a short video the Memphis football team posted online two seasons ago, featuring its young assistant coach Dan Lanning. About midway through, the team is switching drills when Lanning and a player jump in the air toward each other, then exchange hip checks.
The hip check sends the Memphis player to the ground. Lanning, however, lands on his feet, as some players laugh.
“Got me one! That’s one!” Lanning shouts, holding up a finger and then looking for someone else to hit.
Thus it’s easy to see why Kirby Smart, another high-energy practice coach, saw something he liked in Lanning, whom Smart has brought to Georgia. Lanning is UGA’s new outside linebackers coach, replacing Kevin Sherrer, who left to become the defensive coordinator at Tennessee.
“He’s got a lot of energy on the field, and I am really excited to see what he’s going to do with a really talented D’Andre Walker and some freshmen at outside backer,” Smart said Monday night during an appearance on the show The Official Visit on AM 680 The Fan.
Smart worked with Lanning in 2015, when Lanning was a graduate assistant coach at Alabama working with the outside linebackers. After two years at Memphis, where he was the inside linebackers coach, Lanning was hired by Smart to replace Sherrer.
There was no interview, Smart said. There was no need.
Dan Lanning (University of Memphis Athletics/courtesy)
“It was really a no-brainer for me,” Smart said during his radio appearance. “Dan was a guy that I actually considered when I got the job. I wanted to bring him in with coach [Glenn] Schumann. Dan does a tremendous job. I got to watch him work and be around me when I was with the University of Alabama. He had a really good résumé coming into Alabama.”
A native of Missouri, Lanning played linebacker at William Jewell College, a small college in Missouri. After college, he worked as an assistant coach at the high school level from 2008-10, following a similar career track as people like Sherrer and Jeremy Pruitt, who also started their coaching careers in high school.
But less than a year later Lanning found himself as an assistant coach at a Power 5 school – albeit for one game. Lanning had joined Pittsburgh as a graduate assistant, and when head coach Todd Graham left for Arizona State before the Birmingham Bowl, Lanning coached the linebackers for that one game.
Then Lanning followed Graham to Arizona State, where he spent a year as a graduate assistant and another in an off-field role that included on-campus recruiting coordiantor. Following that, Lanning went to Sam Houston State for a year, where he coached defensive backs and was again the on-field recruiting coordinator.
Then it was on to that year at Alabama, where he got to know Smart. And in the two years at Memphis, apparently Smart kept a close watch on him.
“When he went to Memphis, he was able to sign the best non-Power 5 recruiting class in the country as the recruiting coordinator at Memphis,” Smart said. “He had a linebacker that led the country in inside linebackers with sacks and pressures last year at Memphis and broke Memphis records. …
“I just know what kind of coach he is. I knew that from being with him. So I was 100 percent confident in who I wanted to hire.”