Georgia's defensive coordinator position was vacant for less than 48 hours. Just two days after Todd Grantham left Athens for Louisville, head coach Mark Richt has gotten his man.
According to GeorgiaDogs.com, the Bulldogs replaced Grantham, whose group ranked 10th in SEC scoring defense in 2013, with former Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.
Pruitt has been a part of each of the last three BCS National Championships—last year with Florida State and as secondary coach at Alabama in 2011 and 2012—and is expected to turn around a defense which returns 10 starters. More importantly, at least for now, Pruitt is a huge hire for the Bulldogs in recruiting.
Timing Is Everything
With national signing day just three weeks away, Richt needed to act quickly. Although many fans were glad to see Grantham go, the timing of his departure was unfortunate at best.
While other schools were busy locking down commitments and tracking down prospects, Georgia was left looking for a direction on defense.
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That could have been fatal for the Bulldogs' recruiting class. According to 247Sports.com, Georgia already has six defensive commitments and is in strong pursuit of several other elite defenders like Lorenzo Carter and Wesley Green. Prolonged silence would have rendered committed players ripe for poaching and hot targets lukewarm.
Fortunately, Richt was able to recruit Pruitt in his own right, and he signed just in time.
A mere eight days ago, Pruitt was hoisting the crystal football and taking his place as one of the brightest defensive minds in the game. Now, he's once again in the public spotlight, but this time he's a Georgia Bulldog.
The Pruitt hire isn't all style with no substance either. While his coaching prowess is best demonstrated by the performance of the Seminoles defense in 2013 (12.1 points allowed per game, 281.4 yards allowed per game), Pruitt has also made a name for himself by attracting and signing talented athletes.
247Sports currently ranks Pruitt as the nation's seventh-best recruiter. Relative to the past two years, that lofty ranking may actually be a bit low.
|Year||National Ranking||5-Star Signees as Primary Recruiter||4-Star Signees as Primary Recruiter|
Furthermore, the name recognition that goes with being a national champion and persistent recruiter is already paying dividends for Georgia.
Lorenzo Carter, Georgia's top un-committed target, told Kipp Adams of 247Sports (subscription required) that he was surprised at how quickly Georgia moved. "He did a pretty good job at FSU, so it'll be cool to see what he's planning on doing at UGA," Carter said.
Trail to Success
Like Grantham, Pruitt runs a 3-4 defense, which means the Bulldogs won't be forced to reroute their recruiting trail. Currently committed prospects will most likely translate to the same position on the field under Pruitt as they would have under Grantham, and the same can be said for undecided targets.
That being said, Pruitt's fresh take on the situation should be an added bonus as conversations with recruits carry on toward signing day. As evidenced by his recent national championship, Pruitt is able to take talent and mold it into a successful on-field product.
Grantham may have had that aspiration, but Pruitt has the hardware. That reputation—and the resume to back it up—will speak louder than any words Pruitt can offer.
Pruitt's recruiting pitch should start and end with national championships. After all, he's the only defensive coordinator in the country who won a national title last season. Such an obvious distinction cannot be overlooked.
And if Pruitt's introduction is any indication, he's ready to begin selling himself and the university as soon as possible.
New UGA defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt: "I'm looking forward to meeting the current players and getting on the road to visit recruits."— Marc Weiszer (@marcweiszer) January 14, 2014
Georgia hired a tremendous football coach, but for the next few weeks, what matters is that Georgia hired an outstanding recruiter.
Expect Pruitt's impact to be felt long before the opening kickoff next fall.