EL PASO, Texas — Mark Richt‘s staff continues to take shape.
A report from Chicago-area reporter Dave Wischnowsky said Hurricanes defensive backs coach Paul Williams will take the same role at Illinois. FootballScoop.com reported the same.
Richt was not expected to retain Williams, who came to UM with Al Golden. He was previously with Golden at Temple from 2006-10.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday that Todd Hartley, who served as Richt’s director of player personnel and is currently interim special teams coordinator, will join Richt’s staff as a defensive assistant.
Hartley, according to a Sports Illustrated report, will be UM’s special teams coordinator and also coach tight ends or defensive backs. According to FootballScoop, John Lilly, Georgia tight ends coach for the last eight years, turned down Richt’s offer to serve as co-offensive coordinator.
Hartley started his coaching career as a student assistant for Richt in 2006 and spent the next two seasons as a graduate assistant. He was interim defensive backs coach for the Bulldogs at the 2009 Independence Bowl, following the dismissal of (former UM defensive back and Richt teammate) Willie Martinez.
At Marshall (2010-14), Hartley spent two seasons as safeties coach and two more as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator.
Richt, who has opted to stay out of the spotlight as he settles into his new job at Miami, is expected to wait until after Saturday’s Sun Bowl to name a staff. He will not attend the bowl, which is 2 p.m. Saturday (CBS) in El Paso against Washington State.
Meet the new boss: Players had the opportunity to sit down individually with Richt last week, and the reports have been glowing.
“I think he’s a cool guy,” sophomore running back Trayone Gray said. “He’s an alumni [of UM]. He’s a players’ guy. … He’s big on football, but he’s worried about stuff outside of football: becoming a man, becoming better in life and doing the right things.
“He seems laid back, like he’s been here already.”
(You might say that.)
Freshman running back Mark Walton said he and Richt – who offered him a scholarship to Georgia – didn’t discuss football. “He didn’t want us to lose sight of our focus this year,” he said. “When January comes, he’ll be the head coach then.”
“I feel comfortable with the guy we have as our leader now. We can move forward,” Walton said.
Gray and Walton said they didn’t know anything about Thomas Brown, the Georgia running backs coach who will reportedly join Richt’s staff at UM. Walton said UGA wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon was his main recruiter at Georgia.
McClendon – who had a UM job offer, according to several reports – was on Wednesday named South Carolina’s co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach.
No decision: Juniors Artie Burns and Stacy Coley said they have not decided their futures. Burns, a cornerback, and wide receiver Coley have petitioned the NFL Draft Advisory Board for a projection, a source told the Post. Junior cornerback Corn Elder said he also done so. It is not known if linebacker Al-Quadin Muhammad, a redshirt sophomore, has put in for a grade.
Underclassmen have until Jan. 18 to declare for the 2016 draft, which is April 28-30.
Muhammad said Wednesday he did not want to discuss his draft decision. “I’m focused on the team ahead of us,” he said. Sitting at a press conference table alongside linebacker Tyriq McCord, Burns and Coley expressed nearly identical thoughts.
After they finished, McCord, a senior, waited a beat before deadpanning: “I’m thinking about coming back.”
In all seriousness, the 6-foot-3, 241-pound Tampa native said he’s hoping to make the most of his last opportunity to “show everybody that I can play football at the next level.”
Isidora OK: Interim coach Larry Scott said right guard Danny Isidora, who has been limited because of an undisclosed injury, “will be ready to go” for Saturday’s game. Isidora, a redshirt junior, has started 25 consecutive games, all but two at right guard. He started two at right tackle. Redshirt freshman Joe Brown has seen increased time at right guard during practices.