GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Todd Grantham had spent just one season as Dan Mullen’s defensive coordinator at Mississippi State when Mullen left to take the Florida job.
But there wasn’t much hesitation on either side about who Mullen wanted as his DC in Gainesville and where Grantham wanted to take his own career.
Meeting with the local media Tuesday for the first time since his hiring in late November — which came just days after Mullen was officially introduced here — Grantham acknowledged he had other options to consider, but ultimately he trusted in Mullen’s vision for what they could build at Florida.
“I’m a people’s guy and I enjoy my working relationship with Dan. I had a lot of respect for what he had done at Mississippi State,” Grantham said. “He’s a really good coach. I really liked the way philosophically he believes in recruiting and that development part of it. I believe in his program, and to me it’s exciting about creating a change, changing a culture, developing an identity, being able to hold that crystal [trophy] up here. Those things are exciting to me and I’ve got belief in what he’s done and wanted to be a part of it.”
Meanwhile, it’s no surprise why Mullen wanted to bring Grantham with him to Gainesville.
Mississippi State’s 2016 team ranked 110th in total defense (459.1 yards per game allowed) and 93rd in scoring defense (31.8 points per game). In Grantham’s first season taking over the unit, the Bulldogs surged all the way to 10th in total defense in 2017 (306.3 YPG) and tied for 26th in scoring defense (20.9 PPG).
“I’m very excited,” Mullen said last week about having Grantham on board here. “I was shocked I was able to hire him a year ago to come be my defensive coordinator. … I will say he had plenty of opportunities to choose where he wanted to go this year, and he chose to come here to the University of Florida.”
Grantham has had a well-traveled career, getting his start at Virginia Tech and Michigan State as a position coach under legends Frank Beamer and Nick Saban before spending 11 seasons in the NFL. Since returning to the college ranks, he’s worked as a defensive coordinator at Georgia, Louisville and his one-year stint at Mississippi State.
And as Grantham shared Tuesday, he and Mullen just meshed during that one season together.
“It was really good. I mean, first of all, Dan is an offensive guy, but he really has a defensive mentality. If you look, he’s always going to talk about playing great team defense,” Grantham said. “Statistically, if you look at last year, we went from 110th to 10th in total defense. Yeah, we played better on defense, but really the offense gets a lot of credit for that too. If you would go back and look at the amount of double-digit possessions they had, where they would have eight, 10 play drives, things like that, field position where you keep people backed up. … He really has a defensive approach to the way he calls the game and plays the game.
“And the way he recruits, philosophically, he and I believe in a lot of the same things from that standpoint. It’s been a good working relationship because as he learns our defense, we can pick his brain from an offensive perspective on what things are hard, things like that. It’s just been a good working relationship.”
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