University of Wisconsin football coach Gary Andersen made clear on signing day the importance he placed on recruiting in Georgia.
The Badgers signed two key members of their 2014 recruiting class from that state — defensive lineman Jeremy Patterson and wide receiver Krenwick Sanders, who were prep teammates at Wayne County in Jesup, Ga.
Andersen said he will continue to have “one coach at least (recruiting) in Georgia full time.”
The growing importance of that state certainly played a role in the hiring Friday of former Georgia running back Thomas Brown as the Badgers’ new running backs coach. The move was not officially announced by UW, but it was confirmed by Brown on his Twitter account. It was originally reported by footballscoop.com.
Brown, who has spent only one season as a position coach at the Football Bowl Subdivision level, replaces Thomas Hammock, who left this month to become the running backs coach for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens. Hammock also was UW’s recruiting coordinator and assistant head coach.
While Brown has a limited background as a running backs coach — he spent last season at Marshall and the one before that at Chattanooga, a Football Championship Subdivision school — he has a growing reputation as a recruiter.
Marshall signed nine players from Georgia to its 2014 recruiting class, the most from any state.
After a standout prep career at Tucker High School in suburban Atlanta, Brown was a four-year starter for Georgia and a member of the 2005 Southeastern Conference championship team. He finished as the Bulldogs’ fifth-leading career rusher.
He was a sixth-round draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 2008, then spent the 2009 season with the Cleveland Browns.
In a story earlier this month in the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail, Marshall coach Doc Holliday expressed his fondness for Georgia football players.
“They’re great kids that love football and are good players,” Holliday said. “I like those Georgia kids.”
Brown’s recruiting territory for Marshall included Atlanta, an area from which it signed three players in this year’s class.
“There’s so much talent packed into that small area,” Brown said on the Herd’s signing day webcast. “Not just the city of Atlanta, but also metro Atlanta and the surrounding counties.
“There’s such a wealth of talent there. And then we could benefit from getting guys from there in here to have success early on ... and start a new wave of guys from Atlanta.”
Now, that new wave of Atlanta players could be coming to UW.
Brown began his coaching career in 2011 on the strength and conditioning staff at Georgia. After that, he spent one year at Chattanooga before being hired by Marshall in March 2013.
The Herd finished 10-4 last season and ranked No. 23 nationally in rushing, averaging 205.9 yards per game.
The Badgers return a top Heisman Trophy contender at running back in Melvin Gordon, who rushed for 1,609 yards last season with an average of 7.8 yards per carry. The backup is expected to be sophomore Corey Clement, who rushed for 547 yards and an 8.2 average.