Brian Kelly Dips Into UGA Coaching Staff For WR Coach And Passing Game Coordinator | Former HBCU Star Cortez Hankton Has The Keys

(Photo: via Getty Images)

In December, the Bayou Bengals surprised most of the college football world by hiring Notre Dame head Brian Kelly to its vacant head coach position. It was a power move as Notre Dame is already an elite job and the program is one of the most popular in the world.

Rounding His Staff, Kelly Adds Cortez Hankton To Handle WR’s And Passing Game

Kelly has made some significant hires for LSU, none bigger than McNeese State head coach and former LSU assistant Frank Wilson. He’s a recruiting guru and has strong ties in the South.

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The addition of Cortez Hankton may actually be the second-most important hire he’s made. Hankton is a New Orleans native, and just like the aforementioned Wilson, he also starred at St. Augustine High School.

Brian Kelly put Marcus Freeman in position to take over at Notre Dame and gushed about his abilities.

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Hankton received similar praise from Kelly via a Zoom conference call.

“Cortez is a tremendous young coach who has developed young wide receivers everywhere he’s been. He understands what it takes to win at the highest level having spent the past seven years in the SEC. Our players will benefit from Cortez and all that he has to offer — on and off the field. That experience he brings to our program will help create a championship culture at LSU.”

A Black Coach With Championship Experience

Hankton just finished a four-year stint in Athens at the University of Georgia, and was a member of the Bulldogs CFP National Championship team this year. The school’s first since 1980. During his tenure, the Bulldogs won three SEC East titles, three CFP New Year’s Six Bowl games and that elusive CFP title.

He served as the pass game coordinator and wide receivers coach at UGA since 2019. The Bulldogs passing efficiency was tops in the SEC this past season at (6.98) yards per play. He also developed wide receivers like George Pickens, Terry Godwin (Jaguars), Riley Ridley (Bears) and Super Bowl champion Mecole Hardman (Chiefs).

Hankton’s Philosophy Is To Push The Ball Downfield: He Was A Dynamic Receiver At Texas Southern

In 2019, Tigers offensive coordinator Joe Brady pushed the football downfield as often as possible. That’s evidenced by Joe Burrow’s record-breaking 60 touchdown passes. With stud wide receiver Kayshon Boutte returning, expect whomever Kelly chooses as his starting QB to do a lot of the same. Hankton loves to take deep shots early and often.

That aggressive style is a big reason why the UGA Bulldogs won the CFP title. They’ve always been able to run the ball, but the innovative passing game implemented by Hankton put them in a new stratosphere offensively in 2021. He made UGA two-time walk-on QB Stetson Bennett look serviceable with simple, yet innovative passing concepts. His utilization of the back out of the backfield in the passing game is what sets him apart; ask James Cook.

He also has a progressive and intellectual approach to the game and welcomes player expression.

 

Hankton played his college ball at Texas Southern of the SWAC. In 2002, he set career- receiving records. For his efforts, he was named the team’s MVP and All-SWAC both his junior and senior seasons. He rounded out his college experience by being named FCS (Div 1-AA) third-team and third-team AP All-American. He spent six seasons in the NFL from (2003-2008), where he was with the Jaguars, Vikings and Buccaneers.

Hankton has been just as busy off the field. In 2011, he created the “Black Ice Concept,” an organization which strives to increase the minority presence in winter sports by obtaining scholarships and funding to assist with expenses for the athletes.

Just two short years ago, the LSU Tigers sat on top of the College Football world as they won the 2019 CFB national championship. Led by Heisman Trophy winner and eventual No.1 overall pick Joe Burrow, and a host of other first-round draft picks including NFL studs Ja’Marr Chase,Justin Jefferson, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The Tigers under the direction of head coach Ed Orgeron, and his three coordinators Dave Aranda (DC), Steve Ensmenger and Brady (OC/PGC) shredded teams weekly.

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But that all changed in the blink of an eye, following a mass exodus by players to the pros. Aranda became head coach at Baylor and Brady went back to the NFL as Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator. All while Ed Orgeron was removed for his floundering record and womanizing ways.

Brian Kelly seems to value the Black coach and Hankton’s hire is another homerun for him and the LSU Tigers. And another stepping stone for Hankton to a coordinator position.

This hire should worry Alabama fans a tad bit.


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