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23 For 2023 - The 23 People Who Will Have the Biggest Impact on UGA Football's Pursuit of a Three-Peat (#22: Fran Brown)

Graham Coffey

Who would you rank as the coaches most important to UGA’s success?” 

That question was recently posed to me by a DawgsCentral subscriber in response to a piece of intel that I posted on our forum. I started to type out a response, but a couple sentences in I realized that the answer to the question is quite complex. To make such a list, one must make broad value judgments on what assets are most important to a modern college football program. 

When thinking about the answer I also found myself thinking about an old football cliche… "It's not the X's and the O's but the Jimmys and the Joes." That got me considering the players who will suit up on gamedays for Georgia next fall. Good gameplans and great play calls are key to any team’s success, but they are usually only as good as the personnel executing them. 

With that in mind, I decided to broaden the scope of these rankings beyond just members of the coaching staff. As I go through this list I will touch on every position room and virtually every facet of the Georgia Football program. In that way, it will serve as both my version of a spring practice preview and a look at the state of the program. 

Today we kick the rankings off with #23. Since we are a newer website and this might be your introduction to DawgsCentral, the first few entries in this series will not be paywalled. As we get further down the list it will become a subscriber’s only feature.

So without further adieu, here are the 23 people most crucial to UGA’s success in the year 2023. Whether or not Georgia is able to win a third straight championship, and how they go about trying to do it, will be largely influenced by the roles these individuals play.

Previous Entires

#23 - Jamaal Jarrett

#22 - Fran Brown

When Kirby Smart hired Fran Brown to be the defensive backs coach in Athens last offseason it caught many by surprise. Smart had considered candidates from programs with well-recognized legacies like Clemson and Auburn, but he picked the then 40-year old Brown to be Georgia’s new defensive backs coach after an extensive search. 

It was a hire that caught many off guard. Why did the defending national champions want to hire a coach from a program like Rutgers?

The reality is that Brown is one of the best recruiters in the country. Before this site existed I posted my “12 Takeaways” pieces in a shorter format on Twitter. Here is what I wrote at that time…

“Brown was an extremely strong hire. He landed two 4-star LB’s and a 4-star RB in the Class of 2022… AT RUTGERS! In just two years as a DB coach at Baylor he landed the Bears a 4-star prospect at OT, two 4-star QB’s, three 4-star DB’s, and a couple 4-star WR’s. He’s a recruiting ace on a level as high as anyone in CFB.

Brown also learned how to coach DB’s under Matt Rhule, serving as his DB’s coach for 6 seasons… Brown’s secondary allowed just 157.4 yards passing per a game in his last year at Temple with Rhule in 2016. While with the Owls he went into Maryland and found a 5’9” 2-star DB named Tavon Young and a 5’10” 155 pound 2-star DB named Nate Hairston in the class of 2012. He developed Young into a 4th round pick in the 2016 draft and Hairston into a 5th rounder in 2017. 

The point? At a place like UGA, Brown is capable of taking guys with tons of natural ability, and developing them into technically sound CB’s who are great at press coverage, staying on WR’s hips while in phase, and finding the ball in the air.”

The thing with Brown is that he spent his entire career identifying guys who were overlooked by recruiting services and blue-blood Power 5 programs for one reason or another. At Georgia, he recruits with the logo of the nation’s preeminent college football program on his chest. 

Kirby Smart has made clear on many occasions that scheme never beats talent. It might be the great overriding philosophy of the Georgia program. Fran Brown is one of the best recruiters on a staff filled with excellent recruiters. Look at the guys he has been the lead recruiter on already…


4-Star CB Justyn Rhett (2023)

4-Star CB Chris Peal (2023)

4-Star WR Yazeed Haynes (2023)

4-Star CB Daniel Harris (2023)

4-Star CB Marcus Washington (2023)

4-Star S Jaylen Heyward (2024)

4-Star S Peyton Woodyard (2024)

5-Star CB AJ Harris (2023)

5-Star CB Ellis Robinson IV (2024)


I thought UGA’s 2022 class of DB’s was the best group it had ever landed, but the collection of secondary players it put together in 2023 may have been even better. It was no coincidence that group of DB’s was signed during Brown’s first full recruiting cycle in Athens. It should also be noted that while Will Muschamp was the primary recruiter, Brown was also a large part of UGA being able to sign five-star Safety Joenel Aguero. 

You might have noticed one name on the list above that was unlike the others- receiver Yazeed Haynes. His signing might symbolize what’s so exciting about Brown’s presence on the Georgia staff. Haynes was a one-time Penn State recruit who Brown helped bring into the fold last summer. Georgia brought him down to Athens for a visit and he impressed when working out for Smart and the rest of the staff. A day after leaving his UGA visit he decommitted from Penn State. Two days after that he committed to Georgia.

Haynes is from the Philadelphia area. Brown’s ties run deep in Pennsylvania and he also has plenty of history in the state of Texas. His presence on staff gives Georgia relationships at many high-schools in talent rich areas that it didn’t have before. 

In addition to broadening Georgia’s recruiting footprint, Brown is beloved by the kids he recruits. I hear players and parents rave about Brown every time I talk to a player that he is recruiting. Those relationships are not just about football.  I have been told by many recruits that their conversations with Brown are about academics, life, and becoming better men. 

The other thing that makes Brown a great fit for UGA is his collaborative nature. If you are going to coach defensive backs on a staff with Kirby Smart and Will Muschamp you have to be open to constant learning and communication. There have been secondary coaches who didn’t fit in with the dynamic on Georgia’s staff. Simply put, Brown does. 

As for 2023 UGA, Brown’s track record of developing high-level corners should come in handy. The style of play he has taught at other stops fits in well with how Smart has taught his corners to play throughout his career. 

With Kelee Ringo and Christopher Smith II moving on to the NFL, the ceiling for UGA’s 2023 defense could be determined by who Brown, Smart and Muschamp choose to replace them with. How those players are developed during spring practice and fall camp will have a large impact on how they perform.

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