Georgia RBs coach Dell McGee aspires to be head coach

Credit: University of Georgia

Georgia run game coordinator and running backs coach Dell McGee says team has five guys ready to take the ball this season.

Credit: University of Georgia

ATHENS – Dell McGee has enjoyed success everywhere he has been involved in football.

As an Auburn defensive back, the Tigers went 13-0 in 2003. He led Carver High in Columbus to seven consecutive seasons of 10 or more wins, including a 15-0 run to the state title in 2007. Auburn won the SEC championship and narrowly lost to FSU in the national championship game when McGee joined the team as an offensive analyst in 2013. When he was at Georgia Southern from 2014-15, the Eagles led the nation in rushing.

Since he has been at Georgia, the Bulldogs have done nothing but enhance their reputation as “RBU.” He joined Kirby Smart as running backs coach in 2016 and shepherded Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and D’Andre Swift to early NFL draft calls. Since then, he landed 5-star prospects Zamir White and Kendall Milton and was named national recruiter of the year by 247Sports and Rivals in 2018.

Not coincidentally, McGee has been promoted twice by Smart, to assistant head coach and to run-game coordinator.

There can be only one natural next step for McGee, and he acknowledged it.

“I definitely have aspirations to be a head coach,” McGee said during a video conference call with reporters Wednesday. “But, right now, my whole focus is on doing the best job I can here at the University of Georgia this season and kind of let things fall where they may when those times and opportunities present themselves.”

Though the Bulldogs certainly don’t want him to leave, it would be a shame if McGee did not get that opportunity soon. At present, there are only 14 Black head coaches among 130 FBS programs, or 10.8 percent. That’s at a time when 46 percent of the players in Power 5 football are Black.

McGee didn’t address that during a 20-minute interview Wednesday. He’s decidedly in getting-ready-for-first-game mode. The Bulldogs open the season at Arkansas on Sept. 26.

“I’m totally happy being the running back coach here at Georgia,” he said. “I feel like I have the best running back job in the country. Like I said, we have a high standard, and our guys are going to live up to that standard.”

Last week, Smart applauded McGee and fellow Black assistant coaches Cortez Hankton, Tray Scott and Charlton Warren for meeting with Georgia players to discuss social unrest in America. The coaches encouraged the Bulldogs to focus on playing football while trying to come up with constructive ways to initiate change. That has resulted in the “Dawgs for Pups” initiative.

“I just feel like it brings normalcy, football and athletics in general,” McGee said of trying to play football during these tumultuous times. “It allows everyone to move away from that space and look at it and enjoy the game we all grew up loving. I think it’s really, really good for our kids.”

Here are some other observations McGee shared Wednesday:

On Georgia being recognized as ‘RBU’ …

“It’s a very, very high standard in our (meeting) room. It was established long before myself being here. Our kids take that personally and they show it every single day in the way they prepare and in practice. As coaches, we always try to make practice a lot harder than games. If you can make it through our practices day in and day out, you are going to be really prepared for a game.”

On the overhaul he’s overseeing this season …

“First off, I think we have a great room. All of our guys are very, very talented. They all bring certain qualities to the game of football. Losing D’Andre Swift was a big loss, but we definitely have five guys that are capable and will do a great job this year.”

On which backs are ready to assume prominent roles …

“I feel like all of our guys are putting forth a great effort. … We definitely have two older guys with Zamir (White) and James Cook who provide a lot of leadership to the room, and they bring a lot of experience. They are definitely two guys that complement one another. From a standpoint of understanding the offense and learning offense the fastest, they’ve kind of propelled themselves in that regard. We’re still in the process of developing and seeing where all the guys are going fit, so nothing has been decided yet. But I really like our room. Like I said, dealing with COVID, everyone has to be ready to play because we never know what’s going to happen. That’s my process, is making sure that all our guys are ready to run the football and protect the quarterback when their numbers are called.”

On importance of a rotation at running back …

“It is definitely a good thing. It is a philosophy of ours. We feel like the more guys that we can play keep our running backs fresh. They can be more explosive, have less mental breakdowns. They are able to assess the game, stay involved in the game and execute at a high level when their number is called. It definitely benefits us having a multitude of guys. And, like I say, ‘Reliability and accountability is a big factor.’ I feel very confident with this group.”

On expectations for this year’s running backs …

“Expectations aren’t about statistics for me. It’s just moreso about wins and losses, and how we can be successful, limit our mental errors and make sure we protect our quarterback and take care of the football. As long as we do those things, the individual accolades will come. If that happens, it happens; but that’s not the big picture of things. It’s moreso about taking care of the football, protecting our quarterback and playing with great effort.”

On offensive changes under new coordinator Todd Monken …

“First off, coach (Todd) Monken is a great offensive mind. He brings a lot of knowledge, experience. He’s done it at the NFL level, college level, at a successful rate. We are in great hands as far as that is concerned. I think we are going to be a balanced football team. I think we are going to try to put our players in the best position to be successful, whether it is running or throwing the ball or both. I think that’s going to be a wait and see deal.”

On establishing himself as a premier running backs coach and recruiter …

“First, it was a blessing for me. I actually started when I was at Auburn under Gus Malzahn. He allowed me to enter the college realm in an off-the-field role. I definitely learned a lot that season. We lost to Florida State in the national championship. Then moving forward from there to Georgia Southern. Being a high school coach, you have to coach almost every position and have knowledge in every position, so I feel comfortable on both sides of the ball. I think, with my defensive background, it actually helps coach the running backs and help them understand what a defense is really trying to do and really, in particular, in blitz pickups and assessing different looks on where running holes and running lanes are possible.”

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