New coach focused on wrapping up class

ATHENS, Ga. -- Chris Wilson officially has been a member of Georgia’s coaching staff for three weeks, but the Bulldogs’ new defensive line coach barely has had time to even meet his new pupils.

Aside from a team meeting immediately after his hiring, Wilson and the other members of Mark Richt’s staff have been focused on wrapping up the recruiting class that will sign next Wednesday.

“We fill every minute of their day,” Wilson said Wednesday afternoon, “and every minute of my day when I’m not in the office is pretty full, too, on the road.”

Wilson, who took over Rodney Garner’s spot as line coach after working as defensive coordinator at Mississippi State in recent seasons, said he has hit the recruiting trail hard since arriving at Georgia. He has started to familiarize himself with the talent-rich Atlanta area and said his travels have taken him “from Kansas to South Georgia.”

Coincidentally, two of the top remaining prospects on Georgia’s board are defensive linemen in those locations -- ESPN’s No. 4 junior college prospect Toby Johnson (College Park, Ga./Hutchinson Community College) and No. 2 defensive tackle Montravius Adams (Vienna, Ga./Dooly County).

“We all have the same prospects or suspects on our board. What happens is obviously you have relationships with guys that are more in your region, and that’s probably the biggest difference,” Wilson said of the difference between recruiting at Mississippi State and UGA. “Obviously being at the University of Georgia, you have access to a few more of those quality athletes. That was the biggest thing is being able to build a relationship quickly with those guys.

“That’s been great because Coach Garner, who I have a lot of respect for, had done a tremendous job of selling the University of Georgia, as well as Coach Richt and Coach [Todd] Grantham. So it’s been fairly smooth so far.”

Wilson said his first objective in interacting with some of Georgia’s recruits whom he had not previously met was first to put them at ease. He’s a husband and a father of two teenagers -- a regular guy. But he also emphasized the successes he has enjoyed in developing defensive linemen like Fletcher Cox, Jeremy Beal and Auston English in stints at Mississippi State and Oklahoma.

“The one thing I want to do is be me and let them see they’re getting a real guy,” Wilson said. “Sometimes when you’re in the recruiting process it’s like when you’re in second grade and you see your second-grade teacher out at the store and you’re going like, ‘Wow!’ I’m just a guy -- a regular guy, husband, dad. That’s the biggest thing.

“The key thing that most of these recruits already know is that they’re being recruited by the University of Georgia, which is the biggest thing. What I wanted to do was add who I was, meaning the development of players that I’ve had in my career over the years and look at the track record, and hopefully these guys understand that it wasn’t an accident that I’m here, and we filled [the job] with a competent coach.”

Wilson said his interview with defensive coordinator Grantham focused on teaching methods and philosophies more than the available talent or specifics of Georgia’s 3-4 scheme.

While he has coached the odd front in specialty packages -- not in the base defense like Georgia uses the 3-4 -- Wilson said he is comfortable coaching those responsibilities. And he said he would be happy to chip in on special teams if asked, having served as special teams coordinator at Oklahoma from 2007-09.

One subject that never arose, Wilson said, was potential interest from NFL clubs in Grantham’s services. Various reports in recent weeks had the Philadelphia Eagles pursuing Grantham to become their defensive coordinator, but Grantham continues to recruit as usual for the Bulldogs.

“We haven’t discussed it, to be honest. To me, that says a lot,” Wilson said. “The one thing that everybody in our building has been focused on is this class. That’s it. And then the things we’ve got to do. I’m excited about that, because to me that means that the guys who are here want to be here.

“My philosophy in the past, the only thing I talk about, is the University of Georgia or wherever I’m employed. I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to be here. It’s really a neat place -- a really good place, good people. But he hasn’t shared that with me at all.”