Players and coaches at Justin Houston’s alma mater, Georgia, took note when the Chiefs rush linebacker signed the richest contract in the NFL for a linebacker.
Houston signed a six-year, $101 million megadeal Wednesday a few hours before the deadline for franchise-tagged players to ink long-term extensions with their respective clubs.
“Justin is a guy that I’m so very proud of,” Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said Thursday during SEC Media Days. “I remember meeting him in high school and just seeing this kid with these long arms and big hands and big feet and kind of not having grown into his frame yet a little bit, and I watched him grow as a player and as a person throughout the time he was at Georgia.
“Now, to see him doing what he’s doing in the league and being rewarded for the good things that he’s done on the field and off as well, it’s just a tremendous thing for him and for Georgia as well.”
Current Bulldogs players appreciate the graciousness Houston — who last season set a franchise record with 22 sacks, one shy of Michael Strahan’s NFL record — has shown during visits to Athens, Ga.
“He’s a great guy, didn’t show any big-headedness about him,” senior linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. “He came back openly and hung out with us, talked with us and treated us like he played with us. Seeing him get that deal and seeing him do what he did this past season, that’s also something that’s awe-inspiring. It’s a great thing for him to do, and I’m definitely proud of all his hard work and effort he put into his craft.”
Houston, of course, isn’t alone among former Georgia players on the Chiefs’ roster, which also includes safety Sanders Commings, quarterback Aaron Murray and two 2015 draft picks, wide receiver Chris Conley and linebacker Ramik Wilson.
“They’re all excited to be back together …,” senior wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell said when asked about Kansas City becoming Athens West. “I’m pretty sure they’re enjoying that.”
The players aren’t the only connection between the Chiefs and Georgia.
Richt hired former Chiefs assistant coach Brian Schottenheimer as offensive coordinator during the offseason.
Schottenheimer spent 1998 on the Chiefs’ staff under his father, Marty, and most recently served as the St. Louis Rams’ offensive coordinator from 2012-14.
“He’s a very good teacher and communicator, and I think he’s got a great personality for the college game as far as being able to recruit and being able to relate to young people,” Richt said.