Stacy Searels returns to Georgia as offensive line coach

ATHENS — Georgia’s hiring of Stacy Searels as offensive line coach Monday wasn’t earning a lot of praise on social media, but it earned a hearty two thumbs up from former Bulldogs coach Mark Richt.

Searels coached Georgia’s offensive line for four years while Richt was the UGA coach.

“Plus, I hired him again at the University of Miami,” Richt said Monday, “so that should give you an indication how I felt about him.”

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Searels has bounced around a lot, before and since that Georgia stint under Richt. He left Athens after the 2010 season to coach at Texas, stayed there three seasons, then went to Virginia Tech (2014-15), joined Richt at Miami (2016-18) and, finally, has been at North Carolina since 2019.

That last stop in Chapel Hill wasn’t exemplary. The Tar Heels ranked 128th out of 130 FBS teams in sacks allowed at 48, or 4.0 per game.

But, as Richt pointed out, “he will be coaching better dudes at UGA.”

“I hired Stacy based on the tape I watched of his offensive line at LSU,” said Richt, referring to Searels’ stint before joining the Bulldogs. “You can interview well, but the proof is in the pudding. They were very well coached in the run game, pass game and had a physical attitude, which is necessary for good offensive line play.”

Georgia coach Kirby Smart announced Searels’ hire Monday afternoon after it had been widely reported from a variety of sources. He is a native of Trion and played offensive line at Auburn, earning All-American honors in 1987.

A 30-year coaching veteran who has produced 25 NFL offensive linemen and 11 draft picks, Searels will turn 57 in May. So, if this is not his last coaching stop, there won’t likely be many more.

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At Georgia, Searels will join what has been somewhat of a reunion for former members of Richt’s coaching staff. Wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon, tight ends coach Todd Hartley and offensive analyst Mike Bobo all coached alongside Searels under Richt either at Georgia or Miami or both.

Coming off the 2021 national championship, Smart needed a new offensive line coach because Matt Luke, his last one, abruptly resigned last week under the pretense of spending more time with family. Luke, who was also associate head coach, had 16 months remaining on a contract that paid him $900,000 a year. Luke also received a $6.5 million settlement from Ole Miss shortly after being fired as head coach following the 2019 season.

At Georgia, Searels will inherit a strong group of offensive linemen. The Bulldogs are losing senior starters Jamaree Salyer and Justin Shaffer to the NFL, but they return five other players with starting experience in tackles Broderick Jones and Warren McClendon, guards Warren Ericson and Tate Ratledge and center Sedrick Van Pran. Searels’ previous work at Georgia was some of the most impressive of his career. During his four-year stint (2007-10), the Bulldogs ranked in the top 25 in the nation in fewest sacks allowed three times, including ranking sixth and leading the SEC in 2009 with 12.

Searels is credited with developing former Georgia All-American Clint Boling, who earned first-team All-SEC honors in 2008 and ‘09 under Searels. Boling became the 101st pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2011 draft and once played in 106 consecutive games before retiring in 2019.

Searels is married to the former Patricia Hale. They have two daughters, Taylor and Savannah.