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Van Gorder staying put with Falcons

Former linebackers coach named defensive coordinator

POSTED: February 5, 2008 5:03 a.m.

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Brian VanGorder left South Carolina as defensive coordinator on Thursday to take the same job with the Atlanta Falcons.

VanGorder, 48, spent last year as the Falcons' linebackers coach. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier hired him as coordinator last month during Week 15 of the NFL season, but VanGorder worked Atlanta's last two games.

The Falcons hired Mike Smith as head coach on Wednesday. Smith replaced Bobby Petrino, who abruptly left the Falcons last month after just 13 games of a 4-12 season.

VanGorder has held six jobs with four teams over the last five years.

In 2004, he resigned after four seasons as defensive coordinator at Georgia. Smith was Jacksonville's defensive coordinator when VanGorder became the Jaguars' linebackers coach in 2005.

VanGorder moved to Georgia Southern the next season, leading the Eagles to a 3-8 record as head coach.

"I worked with Brian in Jacksonville and have a tremendous amount of respect for him," Smith said. "He brings an aggressive approach that I'm sure will benefit our defense."

Petrino, who left the Falcons for Arkansas, lost his defensive coordinator on Thursday when South Carolina hired him in the same capacity.

Ellis Johnson left Petrino's staff after just four weeks.


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