Georgia Bulldogs Hire Jeremy Pruitt as New Defensive Coordinator

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2014

USA Today

Georgia fans didn't weep for long—OK, at all—over the loss of defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who accepted the same position at Louisville. That holds doubly true after hearing who will replace him.

According to an official release by the university, Georgia has hired Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt as Grantham's successor:

Jeremy Pruitt, defensive coordinator at Florida State, has been named defensive coordinator at the University of Georgia according to an announcement Tuesday by UGA head coach Mark Richt.

"I'm ecstatic," said Richt.

"This is an outstanding professional and personal opportunity," said Pruitt. "I'm looking forward to meeting the current players and getting on the road to visit with recruits."

Florida State's defense was a machine in 2013, finishing first in the nation in points per game (12.1) and second in yards per play (4.09). Football Outsiders' F/+ ratings, which account for strength of schedule, ranked it the No. 1 defense in college football.

A lot of that had to do with turnovers:

Georgia, on the other hand, struggled with injuries and youth under Grantham in 2013, finishing tied for 10th in the SEC with 29.0 points allowed per game. The Bulldogs ranked 46th in the F/+ defense ratings, behind teams like Wake Forest and Florida Atlantic.

However, a lot of talent is returning to Athens next season, including 12 of the top 13 tacklers from this past year. Budding stars like Ramik Wilson, Amarlo Herrera, Josh Harvey-Clemons and Jordan Jenkins will be one year older and wiser.

If Pruitt—who specializes in coaching the secondary—can help fix whatever has happened to cornerback Damian Swann, this defense has about as much upside as any.

But why would he leave Florida State after the season it just had? It's not like he got a head coaching gig or anything.

On that front, Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News weighs in with some contract details, which may help explain why Pruitt was willing to leave a national champion for a team that lost the Gator Bowl:

A 57-percent pay raise is hard to ignore.

Before heading to Florida State in December 2012, Pruitt spent six years coaching at Alabama—three as the director of player development and three as the defensive backs coach. In his three seasons working on the secondary (2010-2012), Alabama never finished outside the national top 10 in pass efficiency defense.

According to Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 247Sports also named Pruitt National Recruiter of the Year in 2012, making him a valuable addition both on and off the actual sideline.

It remains to be seen how (or if) his move will affect the class of 2014, but beyond that, Pruitt should be a huge catch for Georgia and a huge loss for Florida State.