STARKVILLE — Todd Grantham knows he is stepping through a revolving door.
Mississippi State’s defensive coordinator position has been a one-and-done position of late, as Manny Diaz and Peter Sirmon had the position for one year.
Grantham plans to change that — for his son’s sake.
Grantham’s son, Corbin, will be a high school sophomore in the fall. Grantham said in his introductory news conference Wednesday he wants to see Corbin graduate from high school in the Starkville area.
“When I got here, I fully expected to see him graduate high school from here,” Grantham said. “That’s what I expected, and that’s where we’re going to work on.”
Grantham also mentioned his quick connection with coach Dan Mullen and his wife, Megan, as a reason for taking the job at MSU.
“As I got to be around coach Mullen and his wife a little bit more, there was a natural fit,” he said.
Grantham, who worked last season as defensive coordinator at Louisville, was introduced with new safeties coach Ron English. He replaces Sirmon, who left MSU to become the new defensive coordinator at Louisville. English was San Jose State’s defensive coordinator last year.
Linebackers in the spotlight have been a fixture of Grantham’s defenses in the last two seasons. According to Bill Connelly’s Havoc Rate metric, which measures what percentage of plays a defense registers a tackle for a loss, forces a fumble, or defenses a pass — Grantham’s linebackers ranked eighth in the nation by doing so on 7.4 percent of snaps last year. In 2015, Grantham’s linebackers were even better, doing so 9 percent of the time to rank third nationally.
“Linebackers have got to be able to run and hit,” Grantham said. “In our scheme, linebackers are going to be blitzers. They’re going to be coming, so they have to have the ability to win the one-on-one battles.”
Second time the charm
English, who replaces Maurice Linguist as safeties coach, said he had a chance to coach for Mullen at MSU earlier in his career.
When Mullen was the offensive coordinator at Florida in 2007, his team faced Michigan in the Citrus Bowl. English was Michigan’s defensive coordinator at the time. When Mullen took the job at MSU, English said Mullen offered him a job on his staff, but he already had committed to be Eastern Michigan’s head coach.
“He’s done a wonderful job and made bowl games an expectation, been No. 1 in the country for several weeks, had great players,” English said. “There’s an opportunity to win here.”
New to the Southeast
English’s career has taken place everywhere but the Southeast, with the exception of one year as Louisville’s defensive coordinator in 2008. Otherwise, most of English earned most of his experience in Michigan or on West Coast at Arizona State, San Diego State and, most recently, San Jose State.
English, who was a four-year letterman (1987-90) and senior starter at safety for the California football squad, said he has spot-recruited in the area at times, including visits to South Panola High School in Batesville and Louisiana and Alabama. He also was Louisville’s primary recruiter in Atlanta. Now, English looks forward to being a recruiter for MSU in the Southeast.
“I think recruiting is hard work and relationships,” English said. “Recruiting is about time and effort and really doing what you say you’re going to do. If your reputation is doing what you say you’re going to do and spending time, I think you’ll have a chance to be successful.”
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson