Monday, February 7, 2011

Friend Is New Offensive Line Coach


Friend, Will UAB action2University of Alabama Birmingham offensive line coach Will Friend has been named to the same position at the University of Georgia according to an announcement today by UGA head coach Mark Richt.

Friend, a former All-Southeastern Conference performer at Alabama, has served the past four years under head coach Neil Callaway, former offensive coordinator at UGA, and UAB offensive coordinator Kim Helton, former head coach at the University of Houston (1993-99) and offensive coordinator at the University of Miami (1979-82). Helton also was a long time assistant coach in the NFL with the Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Bucs, Houston Oilers, L.A. Raiders, and Miami Dolphins.

“Will has played and coached under some outstanding, nationally-recognized offensive coaches,” said Richt. “He comes with a formidable resume of offensive football knowledge and experience. I got to see first hand his work ethic when he was a graduate assistant on our staff and since that time he’s developed into a seasoned, top notch offensive line coach.”

“I’m extremely excited about the opportunity to be the offensive line coach at Georgia,” said Friend.  “To have the chance to work with one of the top football programs in the country and with Coach Richt and the staff there is a tremendous opportunity for me. When I worked with Coach Richt and the staff as a grad assistant, I had a great experience and I always wondered if I might have the opportunity to come back to Athens.  I am looking forward to getting to work.”

UAB's average offensive output per game the last two years represents two of the top three season marks in Blazers' history. The UAB offense registered 5,074 yards last season, the second-highest single-season total ever for the Blazers.

Quarterback Joe Webb, now with the NFL's Minnesota Vikings, was named the Conference USA Offensive Player-of-the-Year following the 2009 season after he became the first player in NCAA history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in back to back seasons

The Blazers finished the 2010 campaign ranked No. 24 nationally in total offense (422.8 yards per game) and were 24th in passing offense (267.0). In 2009, UAB's rushing average of 229.9 yards per game was the highest mark for the Blazers in school history and ranked No. 7 in the nation. Their total offense average of 425.9 yards represents the second-highest average per game since the program was formed in 1991 and ranked 22nd in the country. UAB also ranked No. 15 in the country last season in sacks allowed, yielding only 12 in 12 games.

Friend came to UAB after spending two years at Gardner-Webb (2005-06) as the Bulldogs' offensive line coach. He had also spent two years as a graduate assistant coach at Georgia (2003-04) working with Callaway on the offensive line. In his first season at Gardner-Webb, the Bulldog offense ranked No. 10 nationally in total offense as Friend saw three of his linemen earn All-Big South Conference honors. He also spent a year at Tuscaloosa Central High School (2002) and was the offensive line coach at West Alabama in 2001.

As a player, Friend twice earned All-SEC honors at Alabama when Callaway was a member of the Crimson Tide coaching staff. He was a four-year starter at guard for the Crimson Tide, helping Alabama to the SEC Western Division title and berths in the SEC Championship Game in 1993, 1994 and 1996 -- with appearances in the Gator Bowl, Citrus Bowl (1996) and Outback Bowl (1997). Friend was named to Alabama's Team of the Decade for the 1990s.

A highly-recruited lineman out of high school, Friend was a Parade Magazine All-America selection as a senior at Neshoba Central High in Philadelphia, Miss. He earned his B.S. degree in human performance from Alabama in 1998. Friend is married to the former Carrie Moon of Pleasant Grove, Ala. They have one daughter, Katie, 4.

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