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Brown hired as defensive assistant

South Carolina completed its football staff on Friday with the hiring of Grady Brown, who spent two seasons as cornerbacks coach at Southern Miss. Brown is the fourth on-field football hire for the Gamecocks this offseason.

Secondary coach Grady Brown

According to a release from the university, Brown will coach the secondary and serve as an assistant on special teams.

Under the guidance of Brown, the Golden Eagles were No. 7 nationally in pass efficiency defense during the 2011 season. The school also set a new NCAA record with eight interceptions returned for a touchdown.

"We're pleased to announce the hiring of Grady Brown, a sharp, young defensive secondary coach who has had much success the last three years at Southern Miss," said South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said in a statement. "He will also assist Joe Robinson with the special teams. He and Joe were together at LSU and know each other well. He will fit in extremely well here and be an excellent addition to our staff."

Brown tutored cornerbacks Deron Wilson and Marquese Wheaton to All-Conference honors as the duo combined for seven interceptions and 23 pass breakups. They also combined to return three of the seven interceptions for touchdowns.

"I'm excited to work with Lorenzo Ward, someone I've known since I was 17," Brown said. "It should be a smooth transition and a blessed opportunity for me to work with someone I've known for such a long time. I also am excited to have the opportunity to work with Coach Spurrier. He is such a well-respected coach and has done some great things here at South Carolina. I'm looking forward to becoming part of the Gamecock family."

A 2000 Alabama State graduate, Brown began his coaching career at his alma mater where he served for six seasons. Following his coaching stint at Alabama State, Brown went to Texas Southern for a season to serve as safeties coach and then moved to LSU as an assistant strength and conditioning coach.

Brown then left LSU for his two-year stint at Southern Miss, where he was retained by former South Carolina assistant head coach Ellis Johnson when he was given the keys to the USM program.

South Carolina has had some transition on the coaching staff this offseason as running backs coach Jay Graham left for his alma mater, Tennessee, special teams coach John Butler left for Penn State, and Johnson departed for Southern Miss.

Brown will take former safeties coach Jeep Hunter’s spot on the coaching staff. Hunter was relieved of his duties on January 27.

Q&A with Grady Brown

New South Carolina secondary coach Grady Brown spoke with Phil Kornblut and staff writer William Gunter this afternoon on SportsTalk First Edition on 560 AM in Columbia.

Could you have imagined this happening after going to Southern Miss and then being retained by Ellis Johnson?

The last two months have been a big-time blessing for me and my family. It started with the great success we had finishing the season against Southern Miss. Ellis came in and we had a chance to talk and develop a good relationship. He decided to keep me on there. Then, fast forward to now, I have an opportunity to come work at a place like South Carolina. We’re truly amazed at the blessings that have come our way. We’re excited to come to the tradition that is in place here.

What was the first contact between you and South Carolina?

Coach Ward recruited me out of high school in Birmingham. He was at UTC then and I was coming out of high school. He recruited me to go to UTC. I have a running joke with him right now, because I didn’t sign with him, that he finally got me. It took 15 years ago, but he finally got me signed. I’ve known him for a while.

What do you think it will be like to work with coach Ward running that defense?

I think it will be exciting. He and I have talked several times. When he was with the Oakland Raiders, he had the opportunity to sit in my meeting room. We’ve talked football several times, and he’s mentored me throughout my career as I’ve made the leaps and bounds that I’ve made. We’re on the same page philosophy wise, and everything like that. I’m excited to come in and do my part and keep things rolling.

Will you be coaching the entire secondary?

At the end of the day, coach Ward and I will work hand-in-hand with each other in the secondary to make sure we have the guys going in the right direction. The good thing about working with a guy you’ve known for a while, titles are big on paper, but we’re in a situation where we’re here to work together. I’m here to do whatever he needs me to get done to get those guys going in the right direction and keep them making plays like they have in past years.

What were you teaching your guys at Southern Miss to put up such great numbers?

I tell my kids all the time that making plays is when preparation meets opportunity. Those guys did a good job of buying into what they need to do. They believed in the coaches and the coaches believed in the players. We prepared really well during the week and when we got out there on Saturdays, those guys did a good job of catching the ball. Those guys, when they got the ball in their hands, they were pretty adept in the open field. Those guys believe what they’re being taught. They allowed their athleticism to come into play. Guys just wanted to be good and did a good job of preparing during the week. On Saturdays, it was just second nature just to make plays when you have the opportunity to make them.

Is there a particular style of coverage that you prefer?

Football is an amazing game and what you can do as a coach is really about the players’ ability to learn and your ability to teach the players. In a perfect world, you’d like to do as much as you can. The more you do, the more difficult it will be for the offense. What do the players do well? What can the players learn and how much can they learn? At the end of the day, it goes back to recruiting players. We’ve done a good job of recruiting smart players. At the end of the day, it’s about identifying what your players do well, what they can learn, what they can play to perform at a high level. That’s the biggest deciding factor on what you can do and can’t do.

Have they told you what your recruiting territory will be?

We have not talked about our recruiting areas specifically. I have experience in a bunch of different areas in the southeast. I’m just looking to get in and build on what we’ve done. South Carolina has done a great job of keeping the top players in the state in the state. Regardless of whatever area we have outside of that, that’s still a top priority. I have to do my part in keeping those guys at home. South Carolina is a place you can recruit nationally. You can walk into any school anywhere and when those three letters are on your chest, recruits get excited. That’s impressive. A lot of schools can’t say that. I’m sure our recruiting philosophies will stay the same. I’m just excited to come in and do my part and keep this thing going in the right direction.

Do you consider yourself an avid recruiter?

Recruiting is something that you work at. You have to work at recruiting the same way you work at becoming a great coach. Being in fertile territories is a part of recruiting. I definitely would consider myself a complete coach; one that can get out there and recruit great players as well as getting the guys on the field to go in the right direction and do what they’re supposed to do.

What was playing a year in the Arena Football League like?

It was an experience to let me know that my bread will not be buttered as an adult by playing professional football. You need to look at what you want to do career wise. It gave me the opportunity to go play, but it let me realize that I’m not going to the NFL, so let me go back home, GA, and get this career rolling.

What did Ellis Johnson say to you as far as working for coach Ward and Columbia?

It’s amazing. Coach Johnson was very good to me. He has nothing but good things to say about South Carolina and nothing but great things to say about coach Ward. Coach Ward was one of the big reasons that coach Johnson retained me at Southern Miss. Obviously, he did not want me to leave Southern Miss, but he had nothing but great things to say about South Carolina, the town, and the people here. He told me it would be a great opportunity. He had nothing but great things to say about coach Spurrier. It was kind of a give-and-take deal. He didn’t want me to leave, but he’s a good man and a great professional. He knew this would be a great opportunity for my career. He had nothing but words of encouragement as it relates to this opportunity.

Insider Notes from Tony Morrell

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