ATHENS -- When his playing days at Alabama were nearly done, offensive lineman Will Friend was called into the office of his position coach, Neil Callaway.
“Well what are you gonna do (now)?” Callaway asked, according to Friend.
“I don’t know,” Friend answered.
“Well you ain’t gonna be playing football,” Callaway responded.
But Callaway encouraged him to get into coaching, and right away Friend embarked on a career that brought him nearly full-circle with Callaway. Tuesday was Friend’s first day as Georgia’s offensive line coach, a job once held by Callaway, now the head coach at UAB where Friend worked the past four years.
This isn’t Friend’s first go-around in Athens. He was a graduate assistant for the Bulldogs from 2003-04. And his first child, Katie, was born in Athens.
But this time around his office is bigger. Friend remembered that he shared an office with several other grad assistants.
“First one in there got a chair for the day,” he recalled with a smile Tuesday.
Friend, who turned 36 on Monday, said he basically knew he had the job Friday. Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo had reached out to Friend soon after Stacy Searels announced he was leaving for Texas.
“I told (Bobo) I’d be in Athens whenever he needed me,” Friend said.
Friend was due to meet with Georgia’s returning offensive linemen later Tuesday. He said he hasn’t had time yet to evaluate his new players, so he didn’t have any insight on how he might use them.
He has spoken with members of Georgia’s recruiting class, which included six offensive linemen. Friend said he told the, “You guys don’t know me, and I don’t know you. But we both picked Georgia.”
Friend also said his coaching techniques and philosophy shouldn’t differ much from Searels, who left as Georgia’s line coach after four years to head to Texas.
Georgia’s veteran line performed below expectations last season. But the unit’s new coach said everyone was “starting from scratch” with him.
“I don’t wanna get caught up too much in 2010. It’s done,” Friend said. “This is 2011, and the things that are going on now at Georgia are extremely exciting. New facilities, recruiting class, guys coming back.”