On Friday South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier announced the latest addition to the football staff, hiring former Southern Miss secondary coach Grady Brown to coach the Gamecock secondary.
"South Carolina is a place with a lot of great history," Brown told 107.5 FM the Game in an interview Friday afternoon, shortly after being hired. "I was excited to have an opportunity to be a part of what we're doing here."
Brown has ties with Gamecock defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward, who recruited Brown when he was at Alabama. Ward missed out on Brown as Brown decided to go to Alabama A&M, but he got Brown this time.
"Lorenzo Ward is a guy who's known me since I was about 17 years old," Brown said. "I kind of joke with him a little bit; he recruited me coming out of high school back in Birmingham. He didn't get me back then in the mid-90's so I've kind of been joking with him and say ‘you finally got me. It worked out; it was just about 15 years later. It's definitely a pleasure to be here and have a chance to get reconnected with Coach Ward and work with him. You can't say enough about Coach Spurrier and the things he's done throughout his career and here at South Carolina, so I'm very happy."
Despite Larry Fedora leaving USM following their bowl game to take the head coaching job, Brown was retained by new head coach Ellis Johnson, South Carolina's former defensive coordinator. That made the decision that much more difficult for Brown to leave the Golden Eagle staff.
"Ellis Johnson, I'm sure everyone is familiar with him; he was very good to me the brief time we were together and was up-front with me throughout the process," Brown said. "That was one of the things going through this process – I talked with Ellis about – is that I felt kind of loyal to him because he didn't have to keep me at Southern Miss. Talking to Ellis, he was really good about me coming here; he had nothing but good things to say about his time spent here in Columbia and he actually encouraged me to take advantage of this opportunity. He told me how Coach Spurrier was a great coach to work for and this town is a great town. He hated to see me go, obviously, but he had nothing but good things to say about South Carolina. I'm definitely happy with it and how he handled me and we have a great relationship."
In the 2011 season, Brown coached a secondary that finished seventh in the country in pass efficiency defense and led the nation in interceptions returned for touchdowns with eight.
Despite the loss of Stephon Gilmore to the NFL draft, Brown will inherit a talented secondary with a lot of experience. Carolina's secondary was second in the SEC behind National Champion Alabama in passing yards, giving up just 133 per game, as well as second in pass efficiency defense. The Gamecocks also finished in a tie with LSU for interceptions with 18.
"I know a little bit about the system and obviously we had a chance to play here when I was at Southern Miss two years ago," Brown said. "I'm definitely familiar with the defensive tradition that has been in place here, especially on the perimeter and the guys have done a good job. We've had a chance to talk a little bit of football. I think the biggest thing is that we need to continue to do is not let balls go over your head and definitely want to contain that deep ball. When you get a chance to play aggressive – certain calls allow you to be more aggressive as a corner or a safety – you want to take advantage of those opportunities. When you get a chance to catch it you have to catch the ball. You have to erase that stigma of you're playing defensive back because you can't catch. I'm real big on just developing ball skills and when opportunity meets preparation that's usually when you make a big play."
Brown says he does not know all that much about the South Carolina secondary, but talent is talent and he believes the Gamecocks have plenty of that to go around.
"I'm definitely familiar with the guys that have played on a consistent basis," Brown said. "Just from the overall talent level I know there's a high talent level here, but very little. When you're in the profession you don't get that much of an opportunity to watch other teams play, but I do know there's a lot of talent here. Everyone I've talked to from Coach Johnson to Coach Ward to Coach Spurrier; even guys that have been here two or three years ago have said there's a lot of talent here. We all know that this staff and this program have done a great job of keeping a lot of the top players in-state. I definitely feel like we have the pieces in place to continue to build on the success that we've had here."
Brown began his coaching career at his Alma Mater, Alabama A&M, in 2000. One year later he was promoted to a full-time assistant in 2001. Brown left Alabama A&M to take over as secondary coach at Alabama State, where he spent six years. Brown then left for Texas Southern for a year as safeties coach as well as the community outreach liaison before spending a year and a half in the strength and conditioning program at LSU. USM hired him away from LSU, where he spent the last two seasons.
Grady Brown talks about new job
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