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Johnsons staff at Georgia Tech has a GSU feel to it
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Paul Johnson - photo by Photo courtesy of Georgia Tech

ATLANTA — Head football coach Paul Johnson’s first coaching staff at Georgia Tech, which includes three of his assistant coaches from the Naval Academy, will be an experienced group. A former college head coach, three former or recent offensive or defensive coordinators and a former associate head coach make up the Yellow Jacket coaching staff for 2008.

Johnson, who was Navy’s head coach for six seasons, named Dave Wommack defensive coordinator. Wommack, last year the outside linebackers coach at Southern Miss, has previously served as a defensive coordinator at Arkansas, Southern Miss, UNLV and Southwest Missouri State.

Four of Johnson’s assistants were part of his staff at Georgia Southern, where he was head coach for five seasons and won two Football Championship Subdivision national championships.

The remainder of the defensive staff will be filled by members of the 2007 Georgia Tech staff — defensive line coach Giff Smith, linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary and Charles Kelly, who will coach the cornerbacks in 2008 after serving as the Yellow Jackets’ special teams coordinator the last two years.

Brian Bohannon (Quarterbacks/B-backs coach), Todd Spencer (co-offensive line coach) and Jeff Monken (slotbacks coach/special teams coordinator) were with Johnson for all six seasons at Navy. The Midshipmen led the nation in rushing for three consecutive years and never finished lower than third nationally in rushing during their tenures in Annapolis.

Mike Sewak, who served as Georgia Southern’s head coach for four seasons after Johnson left Statesboro for Navy, will serve as co-offensive line coach.

Sewak and Monken were also on the Hawaii staff when Johnson was offensive coordinator there and came with him to Georgia Southern in late 1996. Bohannon and Smith also coached at GSU under Johnson.

Buzz Preston, who helped lead New Mexico to its first bowl victory since 1961, will coach the wide receivers.

“I am excited about the coaching staff that we have assembled,” Johnson said. “They are all tireless workers who will hit the ground running, with recruiting being our main focus at this time.”

Bohannon, Spencer and Monken helped Johnson and Navy go 11-1 against the Service Academies over the last six seasons including a perfect 6-0 mark against rival Army. The Midshipmen, in 2007, averaged more than 348 yards rushing per game to lead the nation, and two Navy backs were ranked in the top 100 nationally in rushing.

Monken helped develop Navy into one of the nation’s best special teams units. The Mids ranked sixth nationally in kick returns and 13th in punt returns. Navy returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in 2007.

Preston served last season as running backs coach at New Mexico, where the Lobos beat Nevada 23-0 in the New Mexico Bowl. Before working at New Mexico, Preston served as running backs coach at Stanford and Notre Dame.

Sewak went 35-14 in four seasons as Georgia Southern’s head coach from 2002-05. Out of coaching for the last two years, Sewak guided the Eagles to the I-AA playoffs three times in his four seasons. He worked at Georgia Tech as a graduate assistant coach in 1984.

Smith and Jean-Mary hope to continue the success they enjoyed on defense at Georgia Tech the past four seasons when the Yellow Jackets ranked in the top 30 nationally in rushing defense, scoring defense and total defense each year. In 2007, Tech ranked first nationally in sacks and second nationally in tackles-for-loss during the regular season.

Smith, who will also remain as Tech’s recruiting coordinator, was an assistant coach at Georgia Southern under Johnson in 1997 and 1998. As recruiting coordinator, Smith helped Georgia Tech sign some of the nation’s top recruiting classes.

Jean-Mary has been at Tech since 2004.

Kelly, a former Auburn defensive back, moves over to defense after serving two years as special teams coordinator.

In 2007, Tech ranked in the top five nationally in kickoff return yardage defense and in net punting.

Wommack helped lead Southern Miss to the 2007 Bowl after a 7-5 regular season. The Golden Eagles led Conference USA in scoring defense and ranked second or third in the league in total defense, rushing defense, pass efficiency defense, pass defense and sacks.