Top Dawgs: Dan Lanning

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Top Dawgs: Dan Lanning

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After joining Kirby’s defensive staff in 2018, Dan Lanning took over as defensive coordinator in February 2019:

In his first year at Georgia, Lanning was part of a coaching staff that led the Bulldogs to their second consecutive season with 11 or more wins, second straight SEC Eastern Division title, and appearance in a New Year Six bowl game (Allstate Sugar). The Georgia defense finished second in the SEC in total defense (314.3 ypg), third in pass defense (180.3) and opponent third down conversions, and fifth in scoring defense (19.2) and rushing defense (134.0). Lanning coached 2018 second-team All-SEC OLB D’Andre Walker, who led the team in sacks (7.5) and tackles for loss (11.0).

Watching Lanning at practice since his arrival at UGA has led me to identify his style as similar to Kirby Smart. Kirby might inject more volume into practice, but their teaching styles remarkable alike. Lanning always corrects mistakes by demonstrating the correct moves and he can sound-off when necessary.

Lanning met Kirby Smart in 2015 when he joined Alabama as a defensive graduate assistant and started helping with outside linebackers. Next came a two-year stint at Memphis as inside linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator.

In 2018, his brief time with Smart in Tuscaloosa paid off as Smart tabbed Lanning to succeed Kevin Sherrer as Georgia’s outside linebackers coach. He further endeared himself to Smart by showing some strong recruiting chops.


As a relatively new defensive coordinator, Lanning is fully aware of just how big an asset it is to learn under a head coach with Kirby Smart’s experience:





And lucky for me, every day where I’m having to question how I’m operating as a defensive coordinator, I can look to my left and ask the guy who was the best defensive coordinator in the nation for nine years.


Success, or lack thereof, tells the tale for any coordinator, and Georgia’s defense continued to excel after Lanning succeeded Mel Tucker. In fact, during the 2019 season, Lanning’s Junkyard Dawgs finished as the number one team in the nation against the run. When a rush defense holds the schedule to 74.6 yards per game, it has been well-coached.

UGA recognized Lanning’s success with the defense by rewarding him with a significant salary boost earlier this year.

Lanning’s $1.25 million salary would place him 14th nationally among assistant coaches based on 2019 figures.

Georgia’s defense finished 2019 rated third nationally in total defense (275.7 yards per game), second in yards per play (4.29) and first in scoring (12.6) en route to a third consecutive SEC East title and a Sugar Bowl victory.

College Football Talk

Dan Lanning is young and is building a resume that will land a head coaching opportunity at some point, likely sooner than later. As the Bulldogs prepare for the upcoming season, Lanning is a rising star with a head coaching opportunity sure to be on the horizon. 









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Greg is closing in on 11 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.