Now one of the most sought-after head coaches in NCAA football, Dan Lanning wasn’t always performing on the biggest stages in the nation.
Born in North Kansas City, Missouri, Lanning was a standout linebacker in high school and looked to play at the collegiate level. However, Lanning ended up at a school most people haven’t heard of without big-time offers pouring in.
Lanning continued his career as a linebacker playing four years at William Jewell – a Division II program in Liberty, Missouri.
As soon as his time with the Cardinals ended, Lanning’s coaching career began. He started as an assistant coach at Park Hill South High School in Missouri before moving to the college level at Pitt where he was a graduate assistant.
He was also a graduate assistant at Arizona State and then received a promotion to become the recruiting coordinator for the Sun Devils, possibly some foreshadowing for Lanning’s later success in the transfer portal.
Lanning bounced around for a few years from Sam Houston State to Alabama to Memphis before he finally landed a spot with the Georgia Bulldogs. Head coach Kirby Smart saw a lot of promise in Lanning who was only 31 years old when Smart first hired him as a linebackers coach.
His knowledge of the game was readily apparent and after just one season, Smart made Lanning his defensive coordinator.
Over his three years in the position, Lanning’s player development and innovative strategies with Georgia’s defense were starting to get recognized. Around this time, former Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal announced that he would be leaving the Ducks to go back home to Miami.
At 35 years old, Lanning became one of the youngest head coaches at the FBS level. Taking over the Ducks program, he had one goal and one task ahead of him: Take the team back to the national championship.
His ascension from playing linebacker in high school to becoming the head coach of a Power-5 program only took 17 years.
Lanning’s success at such a young age is unbelievable, and many programs are after his coaching prowess. Always amid conversations about who will fill X’s head coaching position (X could be Texas A&M, Alabama, etc.), he has proven his loyalty while showing just how desired he is.
Now, at the old age of 37, Lanning seems to have settled down in Eugene with his wife and three sons.
In his first two seasons with the Ducks, the team has gone 22-5 and only lost twice to Washington in the 2023 season. Lanning’s recruiting abilities have built Oregon into a powerful opponent and into a team that can compete at the highest level.
He has brought the program up a notch and they will certainly be in the College Football Playoffs soon.