The Georgia Bulldogs got their man rather quickly last week when defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was lured away from Florida State just 48 hours after the job opened in Athens. Over the past six days, however, Pruitt and head coach Mark Richt have been unable to fill two unoccupied coaching positions.
These coaching vacancies are killing the Georgia Bulldogs as national signing day approaches.
Last week, Daryl Jones, Georgia's on-campus recruiting coordinator, told Seth Emerson of The Macon Telegraph, "Coach Pruitt is out there working a million miles an hour."
Indeed, it's hard to question the tenacity with which Pruitt attacks recruiting. Case in point: Emerson also reported that Pruitt and Richt made an in-home visit to uncommitted 5-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter last Thursday night. According to Michael Carvell of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Pruitt is slated to visit Bryson Allen-Williams, a 4-star linebacker who's committed to South Carolina, later this week.
In Pruitt, Georgia found a man who willingly hit the recruiting trail running. Furthermore, if his previous track record is an indication, he will add value to the Dawgs on national signing day.
But a degree of inaction with regard to filling other vacancies is concerning. While the changing of the defensive guard may have been viewed as a positive for fans who disapproved of Todd Grantham's performance, so much coaching turnover may reek of turbulence for potential signees.
|Georgia's Departing Defensive Coaches|
|Coach||Title||Date Departed||New Job|
|Scott Lakatos||Secondary Coach||January 9, 2014||None Yet|
|Todd Grantham||Defensive Coordinator||January 12, 2014||Louisville, Defensive Coordinator|
|Kirk Olivadotti||Linebackers Coach||January 16, 2014||Washington Redskins, Inside Linebackers Coach|
|Chris Wilson||Defensive Line Coach||January 17, 2014||Southern Cal, Defensive Line Coach|
Pruitt is expected to coach Georgia's defensive backs in addition to his coordinating duties, per Marc Weiszer of The Athens Banner-Herald, but without a position coach to head up the linebackers and defensive line, Georgia is losing ground for front-seven personnel.
Lamont Gaillard, a 4-star defensive tackle, committed to the Bulldogs in July of last year but is now scheduled to visit Miami, according to Nate Adelson of 247Sports. He is also considering Louisville. Heading up the Cardinal's recruitment of Gaillard: Todd Grantham.
Additionally, the coaching deficiency could negatively affect the recruitment of two of Georgia's top remaining targets—Lorenzo Carter and Elisha Shaw.
Carter is being courted by Pruitt, but his primary Georgia recruiter is running backs coach Bryan McClendon, according to 247Sports. Each of Carter's other top choices has a defensive line coach involved in his recruitment. Georgia does not have a defensive line coach, period.
|Lorenzo Carter's Lead Recruiters|
|School||Primary Recruiter||Secondary Recruiter|
|Georgia||Bryan McClendon, Running Backs Coach||Jeremy Pruitt, Defensive Coordinator|
|Florida State||Charles Kelly, Linebackers Coach||Sal Sunseri, Defensive Ends Coach|
|LSU||Brick Haley, Defensive Line Coach||John Chavis, Defensive Coordinator|
|Florida||Brad Lawing, Defensive Ends Coach|
Even Pruitt's stellar recent history (BCS National Championships at Alabama in 2011 and 2012 as secondary coach; BCS National Championship in 2013 at FSU) is limited by the void of defensive assistants.
Undoubtedly, casting a vision to these young athletes is difficult without a completed staff. While Pruitt may be able to give broadly sweeping summations of his 3-4 defense, he can't provide specifics on the coaching style, expectations and capabilities of his position coaches. These missing details may give recruits cause for concern.
Short-Term Loss, Long-Term Damage
As Bleacher Report's Brian Jones points out, recruits like Gaillard and Carter will make or break Georgia's 2014 recruiting class. More importantly, however, missing on such targets could leave Pruitt shorthanded in the future.
Ten starters return for the Bulldogs defense this year, but the front seven may need a complete overhaul in 2015, as players like Ray Drew, Jordan Jenkins, Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson depart. That's when a poor closing of this recruiting period will begin to yield consequences.
To be sure, Georgia's slow approach to filling coaching vacancies is hurting this recruiting class. But the collateral damage could be felt to a greater extent several years down the road.
Note: All stats, ratings and rankings courtesy of 247 Sports unless otherwise noted.