ATHENS - Mike Ekeler, who coached the linebackers at Southern California last year, joined Georgia's staff Thursday.
“I was extremely impressed with his knowledge and energy during the interview process,” Georgia head coach Mark Richt said in a statement. “He was highly recommended by many coaches and administrators with whom I talked and we’re very excited that he’ll be joining our staff.”
Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini and former Cornhuskers head coach Tom Osbourne both made phone calls to Richt on Ekeler's behalf.
Ekeler will coach the inside linebackers. He had previously served as linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator at Indiana (2011-12), and he had served as linebackers coach at Nebraska for three seasons (2008-10).
The move completes the Georgia defensive staff: Jeremy Pruitt (defensive coordinator/secondary), Kevin Sherrer (sam linebacker and the Star position or nickel back) and Tracy Rocker (defensive line and will linebacker). Special teams responsibilities among the staff are still to be determined, according to Richt.
“I’m honored to represent the University of Georgia and Coach Richt,” Ekeler said. “I’m looking forward to supporting Coach Pruitt and our entire coaching staff in every way I can. Our family can’t wait to move to Athens and get started.”
A native of Nebraska, the 42-year-old Ekeler does not have a direct connection to Georgia, and his only SEC experience is three years at LSU as an intern and graduate assistant.
Ekeler was Indiana's defensive coordinator from 2010-12, and one of his assistants was former Georgia assistant Jon Fabris. Ekeler was an assistant at Nebraska for three years prior to that, and then was at LSU the previous three years, while Pelini was the defensive coordinator.
A linebacker and special teams standout at Kansas State - where his position coach was Bob Stoops - 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.