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Dell McGee on UGA: 'First of all, my family loves it here'
Georgia wide receiver Kearis Jackson (10), Georgia run game coordinator and running backs coach Dell McGee during the Bulldogs’ practice session in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
It was rumored a few months back that Georgia run-game coordinator, Dell McGee, could end up elsewhere for the 2021 season. Although, that offseason sputter proved to be just what it was, a rumor. McGee is returning to Georgia this spring in what will be his sixth season with the program.
McGee came to Athens as apart of head coach Kirby Smart’s initial staff in 2016. He served as running backs coach from 2016-18, but added another title to this resume in 2019 as he was named an associate head coach. A year later, he became the run-game coordinator for Georgia’s offense under first-year offensive coordinator Todd Monken.
On Feb. 3, it was reported that McGee, along with several other coaches, would receive a raise. His annual salary went from $275,000 (2016) to $800,00 (2021), which is a substantial increase in just five years, but many would agree that McGee deserved it.
In four seasons at UGA, McGee has coached four running backs to six 1,000-yard seasons.
Under his direction, Nick Chubb ran for over 1,000 yards in two different seasons (2016 and 2017), Sony Michel (2017) and Elijah Holyfield (2018) followed by D’Andre Swift with two (2018 and 2019). With McGee’s help, Michel was drafted by the New England Patriots as the No. 31 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and Chubb by the Cleveland Browns, chosen as the No. 35 selection. That pair finished their Georgia careers as the No. 2 and No. 3 rushers in program history, respectively. Chubb and Michel totaled over 8,400 combined rushing yards and 87 touchdowns throughout their careers. The next year, Swift was drafted by the Detroit Lions as the No. 35 pick in the second round.
McGee is also quite the recruiter, too. In fact, Rivals.com named him the 2018 National Recruiter of the Year as he helped ink the No. 1 overall class.
At some point, McGee will be poached away from Georgia’s staff, but for the time being, he likes where’s at.
“First of all, my family loves it here,” McGee said when asked about why he’s been at Georgia so long. “It’s a great place to raise my child. The boosters, alumni, the way our administration treats their coaches, and then on top of that, just having a great recruiting base of a five-mile radius. We should be able to recruit the top players in the country that are outside that radius as well. It’s just a great, great university. We have great academics, offer a lot of different majors. The Georgia Way program, Life After Football is an outstanding program. The brand, the ‘G’ is recognizable nationwide and I really enjoy working for Coach [Kirby] Smart, we have a great relationship and I think that adds on to this being the best job in the country to coach running backs.”
McGee admitted that one day he wants to become a head coach, but it’s just all about timing and finding the right opportunity.
“I definitely believe it has to do with timing,” McGee said. “I do want to be a head coach, and I don’t control that narrative. As you all notice, it’s a tough deal for minority coaches to get that opportunity, and I do feel like when that opportunity does present itself, for me or even if it doesn’t. I want to be a great ambassador for the next man that is following me.”
McGee has had nothing but success since arriving in Athens, and it looks like he’s set up for another big season as Zamir White and James Cook return to campus.
“It’s very similar to the situation when Sony Michel and Nick Chubb came back,” McGee said. “From a team standpoint, they want to do more and they feel like they are a part of that and part of the success that we can have. I think it’s a good situation for our younger running backs and our younger players because they offer a lot of leadership mentally and physically on how to perform, how to practice and how to take care of their bodies. So it’s very comforting to have those guys back.”
Assuming the season 2021 will be played in its entirety, McGee could have another set of Georgia running backs reach quardurple digits. Although, he doesn't want White or Cook, or even of any his running backs, to get ahead of themselves.
“The biggest thing for me as a coach and for those guys being older players is they can’t get complacent,” McGee said. “The play book is in, we’ll have some changes here and there but they just have to make sure that are pushing forward. They have to treat this offseason and spring practice like it’s a brand new season.
“They have to be eager to learn, eager to get better, eager to improve their skills because all of our players have weaknesses that they need to work on and that needs to be a point of emphasis and that starts with me making sure they’re detailed in what they need to improve on.”
Georgia has several other backs who are more than capable of earning more playing time, especially junior Kenny McIntosh and sophomore Kendall Milton. Then, there’s sophomore Daijun Edwards, who played well last year when given the chance, and freshman Lovasea Carroll.
"We don't necessarily play seniority with any of our players," McGee said. "That's why we have offseason workouts. We have spring ball so a lot of our evaluation and kind of setting the depth chart will come from how they perform day in and day out leading up to the spring game. It's a constant battle with our guys at the running back position."