Florida State claimed a national championship just nine days ago, but the Seminoles' road to a repeat already faces its first challenge.
Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt left his post in Tallahassee to accept the same position at Georgia, the University of Georgia announced Tuesday afternoon.
Pruitt received a $350,000 raise to trade in garnet and gold for a role on the Bulldogs' sidelines, according to a FOX Sports report. The former Alabama defensive backs coach returns to the SEC following a one-season stint at Florida State.
Pruitt is on quite a roll, winning national titles in each of the past three seasons. He's also earned a reputation as a persistent recruiter during his collegiate coaching tenure.
His departure from Tallahassee creates questions about the possibility of negative feedback from 2014 prospects at a pivotal juncture. National signing day is three weeks away, and we've reached a frantic stage in the cycle when everything is overanalyzed—predominately for the right reasons—by recruits and their families.
Pruitt played a key role in landing commitments from 4-star linebackers Kain Daub, Jacob Pugh and Delvin Purifoy. He also served as primary recruiter for Seminoles pledge Trey Marshall, a 4-star safety.
Daub and Marshall are already on campus as early enrollees, but there is no telling how crucial Pruitt's presence is when it comes to other committed players finishing their recruiting process as Florida State signees.
Pugh, a 6'4", 221-pound Tallahassee product, told Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel that he was a bit surprised that Pruitt left FSU. He added that he is now considering other options, but he put his Florida State odds at 80 percent.
It shocked me for a minute, but I hadn't talked to him for weeks. The last I talked to him was right before the national championship game and we haven't talked since then so I knew something was up ... I had a gut feeling that he was going to get a new job, but it is what it is.
The Seminoles are currently riding a wave of success in recruiting, highlighted by recent commitments from 4-star receiver Travis Rudolph and 5-star running back Dalvin Cook, who flipped from Florida; however, Florida State has several uncommitted targets who could ultimately play key roles as Jimbo Fisher aims to create a dynastic run.
Pruitt spent countless hours attempting to lure high-profile defenders, such as Kenny Young and Lorenzo Carter, to Florida State. Now he'll recruit them on the Bulldogs' behalf during the final stretch toward signing day.
You also have to wonder if Pruitt will attempt to flip Florida State commits to Georgia because of the familiarity that already exits. Last year, 4-star defensive end DeMarcus Walker followed Pruitt to Tallahassee, breaking his Alabama pledge in the process.
The pursuit of 5-star cornerback Marlon Humphrey likely suffers most in the aftermath of Pruitt's exit. The Alabama native plays for Hoover High School, where Pruitt coached less than a decade ago.
Humphrey, rated the nation's No. 7 overall player in 247Sports Composite rankings, also became acclimated with the coach while he was being recruited by the Crimson Tide as a sophomore and junior. He is expected to announce his decision on Feb. 1, and Florida State already faces fierce competition from Alabama and Mississippi State.
Aside from losing his play-calling abilities, the biggest blow for Florida State while watching Pruitt leave is a loss of recruiting familiarity. The trust forged during the course of a coach-prospect relationship is huge at this stage of the recruiting cycle, and the Seminoles simply don't have a way to replace that as decision day quickly approaches.