The Valdosta Daily Times
Just weeks before his team reconvenes in Valdosta and begins fall camp, Valdosta State head football coach David Dean has hired Garrett Grady to coach the team’s running backs this season.
“I got a call from Coach Dean this morning, and he told me I was going to be taking over the running backs this year,” said Grady, who served as a graduate assistant offensive line coach last season. “I look at it as an opportunity, to start as a player then to be a student assistant, which is a volunteer position, to a graduate assistant to now having your own position, it is special.
“For any coach, they know the countless hours they put in throughout the week, and the Valdosta State staff, they are always putting in so much work behind the closed doors that people don’t even realize.”
Lance Fendley was the running backs position coach last season, but was hired as the offensive coordinator at Bethlehem Christian School in Winder during the offseason.
In 2010, Dean served as both the head coach and the running backs coach, but moved to coach the wide receivers in 2011. Dean’s move to wide receivers opened the door for Fendley’s hire last season and now the promotion of Grady.
Grady will inherit a deep corps of running backs, which includes senior Theseus Jackson, who rushed for 177 yards in a game against Delta State last season and finished the year with 453 yards. Sophomore Troy Braswell joins Jackson in the backfield. Braswell, a former Lowndes Viking, burst on to the scene last season with his 188-yard performance against in-state rival West Georgia.
The duo will be joined by true freshman Juwan Johnson, who rushed for 1,049 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2011 at Groves High School in Savannah.
While Jackson and Braswell, along with Eugene Glenn, are the small and quick backs, Johnson will provide the power carries for the Blazers, a position left void with the dismissal of David Bailey.
“I’m excited to see what they can do during the season,” said Grady of his backs. “But we can talk about all the potential, but it means nothing until they get out on the field and prove themselves.”
Grady says he will have high expectations for the Blazer running backs, especially with the experienced offensive line returning in 2012 for VSU.
“Stepping into this position, I expect a lot out of those guys, with the offensive line that we have,” Grady said. “I’m looking for those guys to be a leader on the field, too.”
The Blazers report to camp Aug. 4 and will hold their first practice Aug. 6. They open the season less than a month later, on Sept. 1 at Saginaw Valley State (Mich.).