ATLANTA–Head coach George O’Leary completed the Georgia Tech football staff with the return of former Tech assistant Lance Thompson after two years at Alabama as well as the hiring of West Georgia head coach and former Tech player Glenn Spencer, and Peter McCarty, formerly an assistant coach at Illinois.
Thompson will coach Tech’s tight ends and will also take over as recruiting coordinator following this recruiting season. Spencer will work with running backs, and McCarty will serve as defensive tackles coach.
These hirings were prompted by the departure of former offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen and defensive tackles coach Dave Sollazzo for Maryland as head coach and defensive line coach, respectively, and the move of former tight ends coach Eddie Wilson to an administrative position. A member of the Tech staff since 1995, Wilson becomes administrative assistant to the director of athletics, a position in which he will assist in Tech’s upcoming expansion of Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field.
Thompson, who served the last two seasons as defensive line coach at Alabama, previously spent 11 seasons with the Yellow Jackets, including four years as a full-time assistant coach under O’Leary. Thompson coached Tech’s defensive line for two years (1997-98) and tight ends for two seasons (1995-96) while serving as recruiting coordinator all four years. He originally joined the Tech staff as a graduate assistant in 1988-89, when he assisted O’Leary with the defensive line, and then served as a volunteer coach in 1990-91 before spending three seasons (1992-94) as the director of football operations.
“I’m very happy to be able to bring Lance back to Georgia Tech because he did a great job when he was here,” said O’Leary. “He’s a good communicator and teacher and a very strong recruiter.”
Thompson, a 36-year-old native of Riverdale, Ga., is a 1987 honor graduate of The Citadel with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and education. He and his wife Stacy have three daughters, Alexandra, 6, Christina, 5, and Rachel, three months.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to return to Georgia Tech,” said Thompson. “I have great respect for Coach O’Leary and the program that he has built at Tech, and I’m looking forward to being part of that.”
Spencer, a 1987 Georgia Tech graduate, returns to his alma mater after 11 years at West Georgia, including the last three seasons as head coach. Spencer compiled a 28-7 record, including two Gulf South Conference titles and two appearances in the NCAA Division II playoffs.
In 1998 he was named the NCAA Division II Regional Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association after guiding the Braves to a 10-2 record in his first season as head coach. West Georgia also posted a 10-2 mark this fall.
Spencer began his coaching career in 1990, when he was hired as an assistant coach by then-West Georgia head coach Mac McWhorter, who was an assistant coach at Tech during Spencer’s playing career and is now the Jackets’ assistant head coach and offensive line coach. Spencer coached the Braves’ defensive line and linebackers and then spent one year as defensive coordinator before he was named head coach in 1998.
“Glenn is a great fit for Georgia Tech as a former player here and a long-time coach in this state,” said O’Leary. “I followed his career at West Georgia, and I was impressed with the success that he had there, both as a coach and as a recruiter.”
Spencer, 36, lettered four years as a defensive tackle for the Rambling Wreck, including Tech’s 1985 All-American Bowl season, when he was a member of the Black Watch defense and was a teammate of Tech defensive coordinator Ted Roof. Spencer and his wife Angela have two sons, Luke, 5, and Abraham, 2.
“It’s a great honor to be back at Georgia Tech, which has always been a goal of mine,” said Spencer, a native of Douglasville, Ga. who was a standout at Lithia Springs High School.
“The experience that I’ve gained as a head coach, especially in dealing with players and personalities, is going to help me at this level. I definitely know what Coach O’Leary goes through on his side of the desk.
“I’ve had a chance to build relationships with high school coaches all around the state, and I’m looking forward to recruiting for Georgia Tech.”
McCarty comes to Tech with more than 20 years of college coaching experience, including the last four seasons as defensive tackles coach at Illinois under Ron Turner. He helped the Illini to a victory in the 1999 Micronpc.com Bowl.
McCarty, 44, previously spent six years in the Atlantic Coast Conference, coaching defensive ends and linebackers at Maryland from 1992-96 under Mark Duffner, under whom he also coached five seasons (1986-90) at Holy Cross, tutoring the outside linebackers. Prior to that, McCarty served four years (1982-85) as defensive coordinator at American International College.
McCarty, who worked as a coaching intern with the New England Patriots in 1991, was a graduate assistant under O’Leary at Syracuse in 1980-81. He began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Bangor (Maine) High School in 1978 and also spent one season (1979) as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Maine Central Institute before moving to the college ranks.
“I’ve known Peter for many years since he was a G.A. for me at Syracuse, and I think he will do an outstanding job on our staff,” said O’Leary. “He’s very knowledgeable on the defensive side of the ball, and he is very familiar with the ACC.”
An all-conference linebacker at Massachusetts, McCarty earned his bachelor’s degree in education from UMass in 1978 and then added a master’s degree in physical education from Syracuse in 1985. He and his wife Tracy have two sons, Cullen and Jackson.
“I have a great deal of respect for Coach O’Leary, who is an outstanding teacher, coach and developer of young people,”said McCarty. “He’s done a tremendous job at Georgia Tech, and this is a great opportunity for me and my family to be here. The Georgia Tech program is one of the outstanding programs in the country.”