Grantham had been influenced to buy property in Greene County by his college coach Frank Beamer of Virginia Tech. When he came to the lake, he would always hear “a lot about the Bulldogs.”
Brad Johnson, who happens to be Mark Richt’s brother-in-law, played quarterback for the Cowboys when Todd was coaching Dallas’ defensive line. They had frequent conversations about Georgia. He arrived with a cogent familiarity with the Bulldog program.
Grantham knew something about Georgia players and players from the state from evaluating college talent during an eleven year career in the National Football League. That influenced his thinking. The main reason he was interested in returning to college coaching was his respect for Mark Richt. “He is a man with the kind of leadership philosophy I respect and identify with,” Grantham said last week at an early morning breakfast. “Talk with anybody in football, and they associate Coach Richt with winning. “The expectations are high because he set a high standard when he came here. I like the way he runs his program, and I am happy to join his staff.”
With his family still back in Dallas, Grantham takes advantage of the opportunity to fill the long hours of the day preparing for spring practice, following a pre-sunup to late night routine. He is no stranger to the work ethic.
Grantham arrives with an impressive pedigree. It all began with Beamer whose expertise with defense and special teams play is highly regarded by his peers. Grantham played for Beamer and began his coaching career under Beamer at Virginia Tech. After five years in Blacksburg, he spent three seasons coaching Nick Saban’s defensive line at Michigan State. Saban’s reputation was built on defense and Grantham took note of Saban’s organization and attention to detail.
Jim Mora Sr. gave Grantham an NFL opportunity at Indianapolis in 1998 where Grantham established a club record for sacks before moving on to the Houston Texas where he worked under one of the NFL’s leading defensive minds, Dom Capers. From there he became the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns and then worked for Wade Phillips and the Cowboys. Phillips reputation for defense is as good as any coach in the NFL.
With this solid reputation, Grantham brings experience at teaching technique and talent evaluation. He knows Georgia does not have the best players on defense now, but says confidently, “We will get them.”
His defensive philosophy is simple: “Attack.” “Be physical at the line of scrimmage.” “Play aggressively.” “Put stress on the quarterback.”
Grantham prides himself on being a teacher. In conversation with him, you get the drift that he is an excellent communicator. (Keith Gray, Bulldog weight staff assistant who played for Grantham at Virginia Tech said this week, “He explained the concept of the 3-4 defense to the players in five minutes. They understood the concept immediately. It was very impressive.”
“Make it hard for the other team to score,” Grantham said. “We must be a fourth quarter team. It is all about keeping them from scoring. It is all about finishing the game.”
He speaks in the simplest of terms and will teach from that perspective. “NFL players,” he said the other day, “are not any smarter than college players. They’re just older.”