Kirby Smart has gone on the record as being thrilled with bringing Dan Lanning on his staff.
But don't just take it from the Georgia head football coach. Lanning's former bosses are impressed with what he has accomplished as both an assistant coach and a recruiter.
Lanning, who was hired to coach outside linebackers at Georgia after Kevin Sherrer took the Tennessee defensive coordinator job, was most recently the inside linebackers coach at Memphis. Lanning's former boss, Memphis head coach Mike Norvell, had nothing but positive things to say about his former employee.
"Dan’s a relentless person," Norvell said at last Friday's Minority Coaches Association of Georgia coaches clinic in Atlanta. "I think I’ve got as much respect for him as a coach but also as a player, almost anyone I’ve been around. He’s a self-made man. He’s worked his way up. He’s maximized every opportunity but he does it for the right reasons. He pours everything he has into his players and into his family and the job opportunity that’s in front of him.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
"I hated to lose Dan selfishly for the job. But also I’m so excited for him about the opportunity and that’s what I told Coach Smart when he called — that he was getting a special person; not only that’ll be a great coach but also a person for his staff and the community."
That "relentless" persona carried over into recruiting, too. Norvell credited Lanning with landing class of 2018 athlete Kenny Gainwell, who earned the state of Mississippi's 3A Mr. Football award. Lanning was also responsible with securing a national letter-of-intent from Keith Brown, a class of 2018 junior college inside linebacker recruit.
Norvell said Lanning did a great job of bonding with both of those recruits.
"He’s a great person in building relationships with the young men but also being able to express the standard and the expectations," Norvell said. "I think that’s as much as anything else. You can be a great recruiter, someone who can give a fiery speech, but at the end of the day, can you listen? Can you express the reality of the situation and help young men find the right fit?"
Lanning's coaching career began in 2011 when he was a graduate assistant on defense with Pittsburgh. In 2012, he took a job with Arizona State as a graduate assistant before moving into an on-campus recruiting coordinator and defensive assistant role in 2013. In 2014, Lanning took a job at Sam Houston State as the program's defensive backs coach and was also the co-recruiting coordinator.
Lanning spent the 2015 season as a graduate assistant at Alabama. That gives Lanning familiarity with Smart, defensive coordinator Mel Tucker and inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann, all of whom were on that staff then.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban recalled Lanning's productivity during his lone season with the Crimson Tide.
"He did a great job for us when he was there," Saban said. "A very bright guy. He’s got a great personality, a great family. He has really great character, a really good coach. A good teacher. I think the players respected him. I think he did a great job at Memphis and that he will do a good job (at Georgia)."