ATHENS — Every time Georgia’s special teams struggled over the years, the same criticism was leveled: The team needed a special teams coach. And prior to last year Mark Richt tried to answer the critics by appointing two of his current assistants, Mike Ekeler and John Lilly, as co-coordinators.

In some ways it was just a ceremonial move. The special teams coaching duties were still divvied up among all the assistants. This year, however, Richt made a quieter but potentially more impactful move. And it only cost the program $31,500.

Carter Blount was hired as a special teams quality control coordinator. By NCAA rules he’s not allowed to coach on the field – only the 10 full-time coaches and four graduate assistants may do so – but Blount is helping in other ways.

Carter Blount./Dawgnation)

“He just kind of helps out around the special teams, so to speak,” kicker Marshall Morgan said. “I don’t think he’s allowed to coach us out there. But here’s our, I guess you could say coach. But not hands on.”

Blount’s official duties on the staff include “film breakdown and analyzing special teams,” according to his bio on the team’s web site. When it comes to the kickers, Morgan said Blount’s biggest impact is organization: In the past the group has been on its own for most of practice, which could lead to some goofing off. Now they’re a bit more structured.

“We kind of talk about it in here. Then when we go out there we already have a schedule,” Morgan said. “(Blount) kind of makes sure where we are when we’re supposed to be there. We’re never goofing off or playing specialist games. If I’m not kicking I’m taking my steps off for kicking and running them.”

Blount’s impact is limited because of the rules against on-field coaching. Morgan and Barber have continued to use personal coaches, and Barber has credited Marc Nolan, his coach in Roswell, for tweaks this summer that he feels will help his consistency.

Last year Blount was the special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach at Birmingham Southern, a Division II school. And if you said: Wait, Birmingham Southern, could Blount be yet another guy with Alabama connections added to Georgia’s staff … then you’d be correct.

Blount graduated from Alabama in 2010, after being a student assistant with the football team in 2008-09, when Jeremy Pruitt was there. He went on to be the linebackers coach at Tuscaloosa County High School in 2010, then a graduate assistant at South Alabama from 2011-13.

Richt has said in the past that if the NCAA allows teams to hire a 10th full-time assistant coach he would use the spot to hire a special teams coordinator. But enough smaller programs seem resistant to the idea, for cost reasons, that such a move may be far off. In the meantime Georgia has Blount.