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Ex-Auburn coach Nall unsure of where he stands in UGA search to replace Searels

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- The question is not whether former Auburn offensive line coach Hugh Nall will take over the same job at Georgia for outgoing coach Stacy Searels, as some reports have speculated since Searels left for Texas last week.

The question is whether Nall is even interested.

"I know that my name has been mentioned and there have been people inquiring (about my interest), but there's really no news to report at the moment because -- from what I understand -- (Georgia) isn't going to hire anybody until after signing day (on Feb. 2)," Nall told The Herald on Tuesday. "But right now, I have to be honest, I'm really happy with what I'm doing. I enjoy my job and I love working here."

The "job" Nall speaks of is president and CEO of Southern Ag Carriers, a trucking company in Albany, where he's been ever since former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville and his staff were let go after the 2008 season.

"We were let go on a Wednesday, and I started work here the next Monday," Nall said. "I told Henry Griffin, who owns the company and wanted me to start after the first of the year, that I've never had much time off my whole life and I didn't want any now. So I came right on."

Nall, a native of Thomaston who now lives in Leesburg, is a Bulldog alum who played in Athens from 1977-80 and was a member of the 1980 UGA national title team. He then served as a student assistant at UGA in 1981 before going on to build his coaching career with stops at Georgia Southern (1981-84, offensive line coach), Texas Christian (1989-94, offensive/defensive line coach and associate head coach), Ole Miss (1995-98, offensive line) and eventually Auburn (1999-2008).

When rumors began to swirl two weeks ago that Searels was headed to Texas to replace outgoing Longhorns offensive line coach Mac McWhorter, Nall's name got thrown into the mix as a possible replacement.

In a somewhat ironic twist, however, McWhorter's name has also been mentioned in several reports as a possibility for the Bulldogs' vacancy. If that happened, in effect McWhorter and Searels would just

be taking each others' job.

Nall, however, didn't want to comment on any of that speculation Tuesday, only adding to his original thoughts that "he didn't know any details" about the search or possible candidates.

If UGA did try to lure Nall from Albany to Athens, they'd get one of the most proven recruiters and line coaches in the nation. Nall was named one of the Top 25 recruiters in the nation in 2006 and 2007 by Rivals.com and produced at least one All-SEC player all but one year during his tenure on The Plains.

In fact, Nall said Tuesday he helped recruit four of Auburn's starting five offensive lineman on this year's BCS National Championship team -- a team that was partially made up of players he, Tuberville and the former staff helped bring in before current coach Gene Chizik took over.

When asked if watching Auburn bring home college football's top honor with a 22-19 win against Oregon on Jan. 10 was bittersweet for him, Nall was emphatic in his answer.

"No, no. Not at all. I was rooting for them all the way," he said. "Seven starters in that game I helped recruit and four were on the offensive line -- and a couple of them started for us as true freshmen. So I was pulling for them hard. We knew they had the ability when we recruited them in 2007 and it didn't surprise me (to see them find success)."

If Nall ended up heading to Georgia, he may find that same success. The Bulldogs have picked up several huge commitments in the last week, including Valdosta tight end Jay Rome and teammate CB/WR Malcolm Mitchell, followed by bruising Colquitt County offensive tackle Xzavier Ward on Monday. Nall said the additions of such high-profile recruits didn't surprise him one bit, and it shows that Georgia -- after a 6-7 season that included a stunning 10-6 loss in the Liberty Bowl to Central Florida -- is headed in the right direction.

"Well, I think that (coach) Mark (Richt) and his staff work hard to recruit (the state) -- and I know that as well as anybody having recruited (in competition) with them before," Nall said. "And I think any kid who's a Georgia native grows up thinking about playing for them and takes a hard look at Georgia -- as they should."