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Brian VanGorder
Title Defensive Coordinator
College university of georgia
Conference NFC South
Born April 17, 1959 (1959-04-17) (age 50)
Place of birth Jackson, Michigan
Career highlights
2003 Broyles Award
Playing career
1979-80 Wayne State
Position LB
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Grand Valley State
Wayne State
Central Florida (LBs/ST)
Central Florida (DC)
Central Michigan (DC)
Western Illinois(DC)
Georgia (DC)
Jacksonville Jaguars (LBs)
Georgia Southern
Atlanta Falcons (LBs)
Atlanta Falcons (DC)

Brian VanGorder (born April 17, 1959 in Jackson, Michigan) is the current Defensive Coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons. He previously was the head coach of Wayne State University, Georgia Southern University and has been as assistant coach under many other universities, most notably the University of Georgia.


Early coaching career

VanGorder started his coaching career in 1981 as an assistant coach at West Bloomfield High School. He served as the head coach at three high schools in the state of Florida, including Boca Raton Academy (now the Boca Raton campus of Pine Crest School), where he was widely disliked by students. Nonetheless, VanGorder posted a record of 52-16 and was named "Coach of the Year" on seven different occasions. VanGorder's 1987 American Heritage School team was ranked No. 1 in the state of Florida[1]. He joined the college ranks in 1989 at Grand Valley State University.

VanGorder had his first head coaching opportunity from 1992-94 at his alma mater, Wayne State University. During his final two seasons as Head Coach, Wayne State recorded its first winning record in more than a decade, going 6-5 in each season. After leaving Wayne State University in 1994, he coached at University of Central Florida and Central Michigan. From 1998-99, VanGorder served as the Defensive Coordinator at Central Michigan University, following a three-year stint at the University of Central Florida, where he spent two years coaching linebackers and special teams before being assigned to assistant head coach/defensive coordinator.

After Central Michigan, VanGorder was the Defensive Coordinator during the 2000 season at Western Illinois University. The Leathernecks ended the year 9-2, finishing eighth nationally in passing efficiency defense and 12th in both passing defense and total defense while allowing just 17.6 points per game.

University of Georgia

In 2001 he was hired as Defensive Coordinator and linebackers coach for the University of Georgia Bulldogs. During his first year as Defensive Coordinator at Georgia in 2001, the Bulldogs allowed just 18.9 points per game, ended up fifth in rushing defense and ranked 17th in scoring defense. For his coaching efforts, he was named the seventh recipient of the Valvoline Southern Sports Tonight "Assistant Coach of the Year".

The 2002 season saw VanGorder's defense not only lead the SEC in scoring defense, but finish fourth nationally. The Bulldogs allowed only 31 points during the final seven games of the season on their way to eventually winning the Sugar Bowl and finishing third in the final national poll.

In 2003, VanGorder's defense ranked third nationally in scoring defense, fourth in total defense and sixth in passing defense. In turn, VanGorder received the Frank Boyles "Assistant Coach of the Year" award, which honors the nation's top assistant coach.[2]

During his final season at Georgia in 2004, the 10-2 Bulldogs were ranked seventh in the final national poll as VanGorder's defense finished the season ranked eighth and ninth in scoring defense.

During his Georgia tenure, six of VanGorder's players were selected in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft, including defensive tackle Jonathan Sullivan, safety Thomas Davis and defensive end David Pollack in the first round, and safety Sean Jones and line-backers Boss Bailey, as well as Odell Thurman in the second round.

Post Georgia coaching career

In 2005 VanGorder was hired as the Jacksonville Jaguars linebackers coach. He only served one year with the Jaguars before being hired as the head coach for the Georgia Southern Eagles on December 9, 2005.[3]

On January 24, 2008,ESPN reported that Vangorder was joining new Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith's staff as their defensive coordinator.[4]



Sporting positions
Preceded by
Mike Zimmer
Atlanta Falcons Defensive coordinator
Succeeded by
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Norm Chow
Broyles Award for Assistant Coach of the Year
Succeeded by
Gene Chizik


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