As spring football continues there are quite a few players with new surroundings, but there are plenty of coaches acclimating to Georgia Southern University. Nine of the 14 coaches on the field this spring are new to coach Helton’s staff.
Defensive coordinator Brandon Bailey comes to Georgia Southern from Buffalo, Taylor Reed is the new running backs coach and comes from Illinois and T.J. Woods takes over as offensive line coach and spent the last two seasons at UNLV. B.J. Johnson and Darius Eubanks both played at Georgia Southern and return for their first year as coaches. Eubanks was most recently at Liberty and will coach the defensive backs, while Johnson comes from Gardner Webb and will coach his old position with the wide receivers.
“We have a new defensive coordinator and five new coaches and I think that is exciting,” Helton said. “You hope you can stay consistent but as you have success sometimes there is transition. We are happy to have coach Ellis and coach West to progress to year two on offense and special teams. We also tried to fit as close as we could to what we have been doing and to bring coach Bailey in and seeing how similar it is to what we did last year it’s more terminology than anything else.”
Baily replaces Will Harris who left Georgia Southern to take over as defensive backs coach with the Los Angeles Chargers. Bailey was the youngest defensive coordinator in the FBS a season ago, his first with the Bulls. He led a UB defense that ranked fourth in the MAC in scoring. The Bulls tied for the league lead in interceptions with 13. Buffalo forced 25 turnovers on the season, over twice as many as the previous year.
“Any time you have transition you want to make sure you have a great fit,” said Helton. “I don’t know that there was a better fit for us out there than coach Bailey. We hated to lose coach Harris but it is great when you can bring in a guy like coach Bailey who is from this area and his system matches our personnel. What he was able to do in his short time at Buffalo was impressive too.”
Bailey is a Georgia Southern graduate and got some experience with Jeff Monken before he left Georgia Southern for Army. Bailey later worked for Willie Fritz as a grad assistant and later spent three seasons as a defensive assistant at Texas A&M, working with defensive coordinator Mike Elko who was later hired as Duke's head coach.
“From a personnel standpoint we are very similar to what Georgia Southern did last year except for maybe the terminology,” said Bailey. “We are just trying to package things to make it easy for the players to digest so we can go out and play fast and execute. Guys are already starting to move around with a little more conviction and are knowing what they are doing and we have some guys with a lot of ability out there.”
Helton says Bailey’s philosophies are already having an impact on what he has seen in the couple of practices the Eagles have had this spring.
“There are a couple wrinkles he brings us that I think give us more tools,” said Helton. “We have already seen our defense being able to create turnovers under his system. It was evident he would have walked backwards from Buffalo to get here and you love when you can bring someone in who loves where they are at.”
Not only is Bailey a Georgia Southern graduate, but his wife C.C. also graduated from Georgia Southern, and is a Statesboro native having graduated from Statesboro High. The Bailey’s have recently had their first child and Brandon and C.C. were ecstatic when the Georgia Southern offer came around.
“It comes as such a blessing not only for me, but for my wife to have her family here to help us with the baby,” Bailey said. “To be able to raise our daughter Brighton right here with C. C’s family, and mine are not far away either, it is just an awesome opportunity.”