Jon Fabris, the Bulldogs’ fiery defensive ends coach, is leaving Georgia to take the same job at Oklahoma. He is the third Mark Richt assistant to leave the Bulldogs in the last five weeks.
According to a statement released by the school, Fabris made the decision to leave.
“Jon has done an outstanding job in his four years at Georgia, and I’m glad we had the experience of having him as part of our staff,” Richt said in the statement. “No one works harder than Jon, and I wish him nothing but the best.”
Neither Fabris nor Richt could be reached for further comment. No timetable has been announced for naming a successor.
Fabris was the Bulldogs’ most intense assistant. His demanding style built fierce loyalty from some players but bemused headshaking from many of the Bulldogs. Richt often joked during small news conferences that reporters would have to ask Fabris questions about defensive ends or special teams because he was afraid of Fabris.
Fabris coordinated the Bulldogs’ kickoff coverage and punt returns teams, which generally were strengths in the last four years. While he bristled at being referred to as the special teams coordinator, he was clearly the coach most interested in that phase of the game.
Fabris follows defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder and running backs coach Ken Rucker out the door. Defensive line coach Rodney Garner had to be talked out of leaving. The rash of departures is quite a change from Richt’s first three seasons in Athens, when just one position on his staff changed.
Fabris’ departure is the most puzzling of them all. He played one season at Cedar Shoals High School and was very happy when he joined Richt’s staff in 2001 to be reunited with his parents, who live in Watkinsville.
The Sooners currently only have a spot opening coaching defensive backs, but they are expected to move one of their current line coaches to that spot and let Fabris coach defensive line or defensive ends. Fabris made $135,000 annually at Georgia and is expected to receive a raise for joining the Sooners’ staff.
NOTE: The Bulldogs have received their first verbal commitment for the signing class of 2006 from Haralson County’s Brandon Wood, a 6-foot-1, 240-pound who could play defensive end, linebacker or perhaps running back. “It doesn’t even matter,” Wood told Scout.com. “I just want to play.” Wood ran a 4.69 40-yard dash at the Kennedy/CES Combine earlier this year.