Georgia hires UAB offensive line coach

ATHENS -- Four years ago, when Neil Callaway left his job as Georgia’s offensive line coach to coach UAB, he hired a former Alabama player named Will Friend to join his staff.

The coaching circle came around on Monday. Georgia, needing another offensive line coach, hired Friend to fill Callaway’s former job.

Friend was a graduate assistant at Georgia in 2003 and 2004, working under Callaway. His other stops included Gardner-Webb and a high school job; He was an all-SEC lineman at Alabama, where he played from 1993-96, and a Parade All-American out of high school in Mississippi.

“He’s grown up around football his whole life,” Callaway said in an interview. “He does an outstanding job recruiting and relating to the players. A very smart football player and tough coach.”

Friend replaces Stacy Searels, who left to become the offensive line coach at Texas. Friend’s title will not include running game coordinator, which Searels had, according to UGA.

Last year UAB only gave up 12 sacks, tying for 15th-best nationally out of 120 FBS teams. He will be asked to help improve a Georgia line that gave up 24 sacks and finished 10th in the SEC in rushing offense.

Friend inherits three starters: Left tackle Trinton Sturdivant, guard Cordy Glenn and center Ben Jones. Kenarious Gates also started five games at guard, and either he or Glenn are likely to move to right tackle. The Bulldogs also signed six offensive linemen last week.

“Will has played and coached under some outstanding, nationally-recognized offensive coaches,” Richt said in a statement. “He comes with a formidable résumé of offensive football knowledge and experience. I got to see first hand his work ethic when he was a graduate assistant on our staff, and since that time he’s developed into a seasoned, top notch offensive line coach.”

Friend, who will be available to the media on Tuesday, said in a statement that he was “extremely excited” about the chance to work at “one of the top football programs in the country” and Richt.

“When I worked with Coach Richt and the staff as a grad assistant, I had a great experience and I always wondered if I might have the opportunity to come back to Athens,” Friend said. “I am looking forward to getting to work.”