Head coach Kirby Smart confirmed Scott Fountain and Cortez Hankton have joined Georgia’s staff as assistant coaches. Effective in 2018, the NCAA approved a 10th on field coach, and with the latest additions, Smart’s coaching staff is complete. Fountain appears to be the special team’s coach and indications are Hankton will work with the wide receivers, but that is all speculation until Smart confirms their duties.
A New Orleans native, Hankton, 37, comes to Georgia from Vanderbilt where he was the wide receivers coach. He spent three years on Derek Mason’s staff. Prior to that, he began his coaching career at Dartmouth University from 2012 to 2014 as the wide receivers coach. He joined Mason’s staff in 2015.
Hankton is a former six-year NFL veteran after he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2003. During his rookie season, he played in all 16 games, catching 17 passes for 166 yards. Hankton finished his career with the Jaguars catching 34 passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns. Then he went to Minnesota in 2008 and 2009 with Tampa Bay. Prior to his time in the NFL, Hankton played at Texas Southern.
This past season under Hankton, C.J. Duncan, Trent Sherfield and Kalija Lipscombe combined for 139 catches for 1,856 yards and 19 touchdowns. Sherfield and Lipscomb are two of the SEC’s top 14 receivers this season. Lipscomb had 37 catches for 610 yards and eight touchdowns while Sherfield had 50 catches for 729 yards and five touchdowns. In 2016, Duncan, Sherfield, Caleb Scott and Lipscomb combined for 129 catches and 1,751 yards. Duncan paced the group with 44 catches and 494 yards. During Hankton’s three years at Dartmouth, his group of receivers helped the Dartmouth offense average 31.3 points and 248.1 passing yards a game.
During his Wednesday press conference, Smart went onto say that after he met with Hankton he just thought a lot of him as a coach.
“With Cortez, we got to visit and meet and we just thought the world of him,” Smart said. “He carries himself in a first-class manner, the way we want to do things at the University of Georgia. He’s very intellectual guy. He played the position, and anytime you play the receiver position, I think it helps you tremendously with kids.”
Smart continued to say what Hankton did on the field correlate to his coaching style.
“He was an overachiever as a player,” Smart said. “Here’s a guy who played in the NFL, kept making teams because of his toughness, his route running, his special teams play, those are all things we want in our wide receiver room so we’re excited about both of them.”
Fountain returns to the Georgia staff after previously taking the special teams coordinator job at Mississippi State earlier this year. After helping Shane Beamer with special teams last season, its expected he will serve as the Bulldogs’ special team’s coach. He joined Georgia last may in an off-field role as special teams analyst. He helped Georgia’s special team unit go from liability to one the best in the nation last season.
The Alabama native has a long list of experience. Prior to being a special teams analyst at Georgia, he worked at Auburn from 2009- 2015. From 2009-2013 he held the title of Auburn’s player personnel director. Then in 2013, he took over as the Tigers special teams coordinator and tight ends coach. Fountain helped the Tigers to the 2013 SEC Championship and a BCS Championship game.
In 2013, Auburn’s special teams led the SEC in kick return yards with 936 and punt returns with 32. The Tigers ranked second in punt return averaging 11.8 per punt and punt return yards with 377. Nationally, Auburn ranked ninth in net punting averaging 40.54 per punt. In 2014, the Tigers led the SEC in punt return average with 17.8 per punt. In 2015, Auburn ranked fourth in the nation in kickoff returns with 27.94 per kick and led the SEC in kick off return yardage with 950 yards. Fountain coached Daniel Carlson who was one of the three finalists for the Lou Groza Award in 2015.
It all began for Fountain in high school football. His career started as an assistant coach at Flomaton High School in Alabama in 1988. Then moved to his high school alma mater W.S. Neal as an assistant in 1989. Shortly after Fountain became head coach at Alabama’s Frisco City High in 1990. After three seasons with Frisco City, he went to Monroe County in 1993 to become the head coach.
After a short stint as head coach in high school, Fountain joined the Florida State University staff. He coached there as an offensive graduate assistant from 1994-1996. Then Fountain joined the UCF staff in 1997 as the offensive guards and centers coach and co-recruiting coordinator. In 1998-2003 he spent the next seven seasons at UCF as the offensive tackles/tight end coach and recruiting coordinator. After his time in central Florida, Fountain moved to Middle Tennessee and was the offensive line coach from 2004-05. He moved to Georgia Southern in 2006 and was the offensive line and assistant head coach. Then from 2007-2008 Fountain found himself at Iowa State under Gene Chizik as the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator before following Chizik to Auburn.
Fountain’s not only known for his special teams work but his recruiting as well. He coached some of the best specialists out of Auburn including three-time Ray Guy Award semifinalist punter Steven Clark. Not to mention he was the coach behind Carlson’s success. Fountain was a part of three ACC and two SEC championship teams, along with being a key component in Auburn’s recruiting efforts from 2009-2012.
Smart seemed glad that Fountain was back in Athens after he left to take the Mississippi State job last month.
He was probably one of the biggest assets in our program last year,” Smart said. “Everybody’s made a big deal about the turnaround in special teams. He was really responsible for coaching our coaches. He was able to bring us some ideas in how we practice and some innovative things that he’s done changing what days we did different things.”
The University of Georgia football program isn’t the only one happy about his return.
We’re excited to get him and his family back to Georgia,” Smart said. “I know the (football) coach over at Prince Avenue is really excited because he gets his kids back. He’ll have two starters returning there.”
For Kirby Smart’s full National Signing Day press conference, check out the YouTube clip below.
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