Ducks New Defensive Guru Lands in Eugene
As the final seconds ticked down in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium in January, Alabama was trying for another late-game comeback.
As Bryce Young dropped back to pass, he was dealing with a decimated receiving corps. In a desperate attempt to come back, Georgia defensive back Kelee Ringo capped the game and new Oregon Head Coach Dan Lanning's time as Georgia's Defensive Coordinator with a giant exclamation point as Georgia won its first National Championship since 1980, 33-18, over the Crimson Tide.
Lanning hopes he can be the architect for the first National Championship in Eugene for Oregon fans.
Lanning began his college football playing career at Division II William Jewell College in Missouri as a linebacker from 2004-2007.
Following his career at WJC, he ended up 20 miles south at Park Hill South High School in Riverside, Missouri, for three seasons.
During that time, the University of Tulsa would host football camps around the region, and this is where Lanning first met Todd Graham, then Tulsa Head Coach,
Graham left Tulsa to take the same position at the University of Pittsburgh.
What Lanning did next was like Michael J. Fox's 1987 film "The Secret of My Success."
Lanning drove from Park Hill High School in Kansas City to the University of Pittsburgh campus in Oakland and came unexpectedly.
He waited several hours to meet with Graham, stating his coach was to join the coaching staff.
He offered to clean up the weights in the weight room or empty trash between the locker room, practice facility, or weight room.
Graham accepted him as a volunteer.
Graham said in the Tulsa World,
"A week goes by, and this guy is unbelievable; he was outworking the interns. A few weeks go by, and we put him as an intern. And then, after three or four months, he's outworking the GAs (graduate assistants). We made him a GA."
"He was a guy who would sleep in the office. He would work all night long."
Lanning would follow Graham to Arizona State in 2013, where he would pick up more defensive responsibilities, and the ASU defense would be the anchor in his time in Tempe.
"Dan was my right-hand man; he was as close of a confidant … I didn't look at him as a GA. He's among the most gifted, talented, bright persons I've met. He loves his players, and he's a masterful teacher."
Lanning would coach in 2014 at Sam Houston State as Defensive Backs Coach and Co-Recruiting Coordinator.
He would join the Alabama staff in 2015 as a GA.
This is where he would meet Alabama Defensive Coordinator and future Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart.
Smart said of Lanning in the Oregon Live, "I mean he slept on floors in offices," Smart said during SEC Spring Meetings. "He drove thousands of miles to get job opportunities. He was a high school coach that had a dream, and he realized the dream because of his hard work."
“I like to think in our profession that if you work really hard, you’re smart, you catch on with the right people, that you can be successful. Dan’s paved his own way. He’s done more for the people he worked for than (they) did for him. He’s really an incredible worker, enthusiastic, buys in and got a great family story.” - Kirby Smart
Via OREGON LIVE
Lanning would coach at Memphis under Mike Norvell in 2016 and 2017 and served as Norvell's Recruiting Coordinator and Inside Linebackers coach.
In 2018, Smart and then Georgia Defensive Coordinator, Michigan State Head Coach Mel Tucker, brought Lanning to coach the Outside Linebackers.
In 2019, Lanning was promoted to Georgia Defensive Coordinator, wherein two of the following three seasons, Lanning coordinated the Bulldogs twice as the Nation's No. 1 scoring defense.
Some of his highlights include:
- 2019 No. 1 Scoring Defense (12.6 PPG), Comp% Allowed (56.9), Rushing Yards Allowed (74.9 Per game), Rushing Yards Per Attempt (2.6), No. 2 in Yards Per Play (4.3), and No. 3 in Total Yards Per Game (276)
- 2020 No. 1 Rushing Yards Per Game (72.3) and Rush Yards Per Attempt (2.3)
- 2021 No. 1 Scoring Defense (10.2), Rushing Touchdowns Per Game (0.2), Total Yards Per Attempt (4.2), No. 2 Rushing Yards Per Game (78.9), Rushing Yards Per Attempt (2.6), Total Yards Per Game (268.5) and No. 4 Rushing First Downs Allowed Per Game (5.4)
2022 Oregon & Beyond
Lanning starts his head coaching career at one of College Football's destination jobs in Oregon.
Lanning also begins his career with arguably the nation's top Inside Linebacker in Noah Sewell.
Sewell is an athletic playmaker who can cover sideline to sideline and make up ground as quickly as anyone in the middle.
Sewell possesses amazing instincts and has an excellent nose for football.
Sewell's linebacking partner will be Justin Flowe.
Flowe battled injuries dealing with a torn meniscus last season.
What stands out for the scouts in the game he played in, Fresno State, Flowe was flowing all over the field and netted 14 tackles.
Flowe checks all the boxes pro scouts look for in a linebacker: size, speed, physicality, explosion, and coverage capability.
Keeping Flowe and Sewell clean will be the tandem on the interior of the defensive line Popo Aumavae and Brandon Dorius.
On the offensive side of the ball, all eyes will be on the much-maligned Auburn transfer Bo Nix as he makes his debut in Eugene.
Lanning said of Nix for Deseret News, "Bo's really what I thought he was. He's an extreme competitor, super smart, works hard at it, and I think he's intentional; I think he would tell you he has a lot of things he can get better at, and I certainly agree. There are a lot of things that he can improve on, but he's attacking those every day. I'm pleased to see that."
Nix will be protected by two of the league's best linemen, Seniors Alex Forsyth and T.J. Bass. Bass is heavily regarded for his exceptional run-blocking ability.
In recruiting, Oregon finished with the Pac-12's top recruiting class for the 2022 recruiting cycle, led by the pledge for 5-star Offensive Tackle Josh Conerly Jr. from Rainier Beach in Seattle, Washington.
In this recruiting cycle, Lanning and staff hit a home run landing 5-star quarterback Dante Moore from Detroit, Michigan.
For Lanning, Oregon has the Nike pocketbook for NIL considerations, and anyone who has seen the facilities at Oregon rates among the best in the country.
He will have to contend over the next two seasons with the Men of Troy; Lanning is the opposite of what Lincoln Riley brings to Southern Cal. Lanning will have to match wits in this elite chess match.
Lanning will have his work cut out for his coaching debut as he takes on Georgia in Atlanta for Week 1.
For Oregon fans, patience needs to be exercised; the defensive equivalent to Lincoln Riley is what Oregon hired. He has the pieces in place defensively to cause waves early; it will be what Bo Nix and the offense does to contribute that will determine the success of the 2022 Ducks.