"I've known John since 1995 and know exactly what we are getting," said Richt. "He has exceptional football knowledge, especially regarding the tight end position, and he's an outstanding recruiter. But beyond that, John cares not only about how his players do on the field, but also how they mature, work toward their degrees, and become responsible young men."
"I am extremely excited and feel truly blessed to be joining the coaching staff at the University of Georgia," said Lilly. "I'm appreciative of Coach Richt giving me this opportunity and I'm eager to get to work to help in any way possible in making the Bulldogs the top college football program in the nation. I have long considered Coach Richt to be both a mentor and a friend and I'm honored that he will now be my head coach."
Lilly's tight ends at FSU have been a productive part of the Seminole offense especially in recent years.
In 2006, his tight ends recorded 38 catches, the most receptions as a group since 1990 and second-most receptions in FSU history by the tight end position. In 2006, he coached Brandon Warren, the first tight end in school history to receive freshman All-America honors and only the third tight end ever at FSU to receive All-America recognition. In 2005 and '06 his tight ends registered back-to-back seasons with 30 or more catches for the first time since 1990 and '91.
Under Lilly's direction, four of FSU's last six recruiting classes have been ranked in the top four in the nation. The Seminoles' 2001 and 2005 classes were ranked number one nationally in some polls.
Prior to being named recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach, Lilly served as a graduate assistant (1996-97) and videographer (1995) at FSU. He was an assistant coach at Northwest Guilford High School in Greensboro, N.C., from 1991-94.
Lilly played quarterback, wide receiver and special teams for the Guilford Quakers and was named recipient of the Golden Helmet Award as the ideal Guilford College player as a senior. He was a Dean's List student all four years at Guilford and was chosen team captain as a senior.
Lilly is engaged to be married on March 8 to Cheryl Brown of Tallahassee, Fla.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS FROM LILLY:
"This opportunity also presents me with the chance to work again with Dave Van Halanger who I also counted as one of my closest friends when we were together in Tallahassee and with whom I've been fortunate to maintain contact over the past seven years. I have admired and respected the work done by the coaching staff at the University of Georgia during that time. Having met many of them in regular coaching circles or through recruiting I hold them in very high esteem and am both ecstatic and humbled to now have the chance to be counted among them.
"The passion with which the entire state of Georgia views its football has not been lost on me during my years at Florida State. Having been a college football fan all my life I am quite familiar with many of the truly great traditions of Bulldog football and look forward to learning of others and getting involved in the University and the Athens community as a whole.
"It was only after a great deal of prayer that this decision was made. I am thankful for the peace that God has provided both my fiancé and me as He has directed this move and we are anxious to see all that He has in store in this next chapter of life. While it is a tremendous blessing to be able to come to the University of Georgia it was also special to have been able to work at Florida State University.
"I cannot wait to experience the unbridled enthusiasm of everyone involved in any way with Georgia Bulldog football. August 30th "Between the Hedges" in Sanford Stadium can't come soon enough!"