Van Gorder heading to the NFL -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Van Gorder heading to the NFL

January 10, 2005

Athens -  University of Georgia defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder has accepted a position as linebackers coach with the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars and Bulldog running backs coach Ken Rucker will assume a similar role on the staff at the University of Texas according to UGA head coach Mark Richt.

Richt said that Georgia secondary coach Willie Martinez will assume the role of defensive coordinator for the Bulldogs and a search will begin for linebacker and running backs coaches.

"We certainly appreciate the outstanding contributions of both Brian and Ken and wish them the very best as they continue their professional careers," said Richt. "At the same time, I have complete confidence in Coach Martinez and the job he will do along with the rest of our defensive coaches in maintaining the system and reputation we have established for tough, aggressive defensive play."

VanGorder, a native of Jackson, Mich., was part of Richt's original staff in 2001 and helped build Georgia's defense into one of the country's top units.

He was named the recipient of the Frank Broyles Award in 2003 as the nation's top assistant coach.

Martinez, a teammate of Richt's at the University of Miami, was also on Richt's original staff in 2001.

He has coached the Georgia secondary the past four years.

During his tenure in Athens, he's coached two first team All-America defensive backs: Sean Jones in 2003 and Thomas Davis in 2004.

He's also had five Georgia players chosen in the NFL draft: Jones (2nds round, Cleveland) and Bruce Thornton (4th round, Dallas) in 2004; and Terreal Bierria (4th round, Seattle), Jermaine Phillips (5th round, Tampa Bay), and Tim Wansley (7th round, Tampa Bay) all in 2002.

 In addition, Davis is an expected high choice in the upcoming NFL draft.

A native of Coral Gables, Fla., Martinez had previous college coaching stops at Central Michigan (2000, Assistant Head Coach), Central Michigan (1998-99, Defensive Backs), Eastern Michigan (1997, Defensive Backs), Central Florida (1995-96, Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs), Central Michigan (1994, Defensive Backs), Grand Valley State (1992-93, Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs).

In 2000, his Central Michigan team led the nation in pass defense (147.9 ypg) and senior free safety Brian Leigeb led the Mid-American Conference in tackles and was third nationally with 13.36 per game.

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