On Monday, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart hired longtime Alabama strength and conditioning coordinator Scott Cochran as the Bulldogs’ new special teams coach.
Smart initially tried to hire Cochran when he came to Georgia in 2016 but was unable to do so.
“Ask anyone who’s been around him, Scott’s passion and energy are contagious,” Smart said, via a school release. “Special Teams Coordinator is a great fit as he’ll be working with all position groups. His knowledge and experience elevates our entire program, and we’re excited to welcome the Cochran family to Athens.”
This hire fills the final on-the-field coaching position on Georgia’s staff, which was held by former special teams coach Scott Fountain, who left for Arkansas back in January. A lot of speculation was that Smart might use the vacancy for an offensive coaching position, potentially at quarterback, with current offensive analyst Buster Faulkner as a viable option. With Cochran’s addition, this probably means that current offensive coordinator Todd Monken will coach quarterbacks while calling plays.
Cochran will take over a special teams unit that lost 2019 Lou Groza Award Winner Rodrigo Blankenship, with incoming freshman Jared Zirkel as the only scholarship placekicker on the roster in 2020. Rising junior Jake Camarda returns at punter. Camara ranked sixth nationally and fourth in the SEC in punting average last season.
According to Smart, there is always room for improvement in all three phases of the game. Georgia was No. 20 in the country and No. 5 in the SEC in kickoff return defense and was No. 93 nationally and No. 9 in the conference on kickoff return average. The Bulldogs were No. 29 overall and No. 8 in the SEC in punt returns and No. 82 nationally and No. 6 in the conference in punt return defense. Junior tailback James Cook will return as the main kickoff returner, and sophomore wide receiver Dom Blaylock will probably be the top option for punt returner. Blaylock suffered a knee injury in the SEC Championship game against LSU.
Cochran and Smart spent nine seasons together at Alabama under Nick Saban. Cochran was under Saban during all six of Alabama’s national championship runs.
Cochran spent his undergrad days at LSU and began his career as a strength and conditioning coach at University Lab High School in Baton Rouge from 1998-2001. He then returned to LSU as a graduate assistant from 2001-2003 and joined the strength staff in 2003-04, as an assistant on the staff.
Cochran left LSU to become the assistant strength coach in the NBA for the New Orleans Hornets where he spent three seasons before being hired by Saban in 2007.
Georgia will begin spring practice on March 17th and the annual G Day game will be April 18th. Georgia is set to begin the season on Monday, Sept. 7th against Virginia in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic in Mercedes Benz Stadium.