Georgia zeroing in on Ekeler as final assistant

semerson@macon.comJanuary 30, 2014 

ATHENS - Georgia looks to be closing in on the final hire to its coaching staff.

Mike Ekeler, who coached Southern California's linebackers this past season, has emerged as a serious candidate to join Georgia's staff. In fact, two sources at UGA said Ekeler was on his way to meet with head coach Mark Richt on Thursday.

Attempts to reach Ekeler for comment were unsuccessful. A source cautioned that it was not yet a done deal, and that Ekeler had also been speaking with UCLA. But the fact he was heading to meet Richt points to an advanced candidacy.

There is no firm connection between Ekeler and UGA, although he did work at Oklahoma with Chris Wilson, who spent last season as Georgia's defensive line coach. Wilson, coincidentally, left for the same job at Southern California.

Ekeler, 42, was Indiana's defensive coordinator from 2010-12, and one of his assistants was Jon Fabris, the former Georgia assistant. Prior to that Ekeler was an assistant at Nebraska for three years under Bo Pelini. Ekeler also worked at LSU from 2005-07, serving as an intern and graduate assistant, when Pelini was the defensive coordinator there. The Tigers won the national title while Ekeler was there.

A source said Ekelar, if hired at UGA, would help coach linebackers and also have a role coaching special teams. Ekeler was a special teams standout at Kansas State, where he played from 1991-94.

In fact Ekeler was named the national special teams player of the year as a senior by the George Michael Sports Machine, the now-defunct national sports show.

Ekeler's position coach at Kansas State was a familiar name: Bob Stoops, now the Oklahoma head coach.

Kevin Sherrer was hired as a defensive assistant last week, and his background is also in coaching linebackers. New defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has coached the secondary at Florida State and Alabama.

Tracy Rocker was announced as Georgia's defensive line coach earlier this week.

Johnson says he's returning

Former Georgia defensive starter Kellin Johnson posted on his Facebook page that he was re-joining the program as a graduate assistant.

Johnson played for the Bulldogs from 2004-07, and was a team captain as a senior. Since then he has been working in the media, mostly doing radio.

Follow Seth Emerson at @sethemerson.

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