Assistant Andy McCollum talks with quarterback Justin Thomas as coach Paul Johnson looks on.
Photo: hshin@ajc.com
Photo: hshin@ajc.com

Andy McCollum, Joe Speed retained at Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech safeties coach Andy McCollum and cornerbacks coach Joe Speed will both remain on coach Paul Johnson’s staff, according to two people familiar with the situation. All three of the defensive position coach spots had been under review with the hire of new defensive coordinator Nate Woody.

Both McCollum and Speed joined Johnson’s staff in 2010, serving first under defensive coordinator Al Groh and then Ted Roof, who left Tech in December after five seasons to become co-defensive coordinator at N.C. State.

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McCollum distinguished himself in the development of linebackers such as P.J. Davis, Quayshawn Nealy and Brandon Watts and has also coached defensive line and, most recently, safeties. He has been a prolific recruiter for Tech, as well. In the 2018 class, he was responsible for seven of the 18 prospects who have signed, including two of the most highly rated players in the class, linebacker Justice Dingle and quarterback James Graham.

Speed has coached inside linebackers, defensive backs and, for the past two seasons, cornerbacks. He was the secondary coach in 2014 when that position group was arguably its strongest during Johnson’s tenure with cornerbacks Chris Milton and D.J. White and safeties Isaiah Johnson and Jamal Golden, when the Jackets tied for 10th nationally in interceptions with 18. Milton, White and Johnson are all on NFL rosters.

Among players Speed has recruited to Tech are White, Ricky Jeune and Jaquan Henderson.

Woody, who was given authority to keep or dismiss the defensive coaches on staff, chose not to retain defensive line coach Mike Pelton in favor of a coach more experienced in the 3-4 scheme that he runs. Keeping Speed and McCollum enables the team to maintain continuity as the defense learns a new defense and attempts to rebound from a 5-6 season.

Tech has two remaining positions to fill, Pelton’s vacated spot and the 10th assistant position. The jobs could be filled by the end of the weekend.

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