Dan Mullen has added another Mississippi State assistant to his staff at Florida.
Todd Grantham, Mullen’s defensive coordinator in 2017, is joining the Gators' staff to serve the same role, 247Sports confirmed Wednesday. Randy Shannon, who began the season as UF’s defensive coordinator before being named interim head coach after the firing of Jim McElwain, was let go by the team Tuesday, as first reported by SEC Country.
Grantham, 51, is tasked with turning around a Gators (4-7) defense that finished this past season outside the top 20 in points allowed for the first time in five years, finishing the regular season ranked 73rd in the country (23.7 points per game).
In his only season with Mississippi State, Grantham shaved 11 points off the Bulldogs’ average opponent score (20.4 points per game compared to 31.8 in 2016).
Attentive Florida fans may remember Grantham from a 2010 matchup with Georgia. As UGA coach Mark Richt’s defensive coordinator, Grantham was caught on camera giving a choking gesture to UF kicker Chas Henry before Henry hit a game-winning field goal.
Grantham himself came under fire from Mississippi State fans for choking against Alabama. In a critical third-and-15 at the end of the game, Grantham’s defense blitzed the Crimson Tide, leaving big-play receiver Calvin Ridley open for a first down. Alabama ended the drive with a game-clinching touchdown.
But for Grantham, a few slip ups won’t negate a track record of generating turnovers and sacking quarterbacks — two areas the Gators finished near the bottom of the SEC in over the past season.
Grantham also brings NFL experience to the UF job. He spent 1999 to 2009 in the pros as a defensive line coach for the Colts, Texans and Cowboys, and he served as the Browns’ defensive coordinator from 2005 to 2007. From there, Grantham brought his 3-4 style of defense (three linemen, four linebackers as opposed to the other way around) to the college level, where he instilled the ideology with success at Louisville and Georgia before being hired by Mullen at Mississippi State in January 2017.
Grantham will have at least seven returning starters to work with at Florida. UF is losing two seniors in safety Nick Washington and cornerback Duke Dawson, and could lose two more if defensive linemen Taven Bryan and CeCe Jefferson decide to forego their last year of eligibility and announce for the NFL draft.
While Mullen has a reputation as an offensive-minded coach, his hire of Grantham comes before hiring an offensive coordinator, and Grantham is the first defensive assistant to be hired by Mullen at UF.
Overall, Grantham is the third Mississippi State coach to arrive at Florida over the past two days. On Tuesday, UF announced the hire of two longtime Mullen assistants, Billy Gonzales and John Hevesy, who served as co-offensive coordinators this past season and managed the passing game and running game, respectively.
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