Jeremy Pruitt will be Georgia's next defensive coordinator, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and ESPN, one week after his defense helped the Seminoles reach the BCS Championship against Auburn. He takes over for Todd Grantham, who left after four years for a big raise at Louisville.
Jeremy Pruitt made $260K at Alabama in 2012, $540K at FSU in 2013 and is expected to make $850K at Georgia in 2014. #NewBracket— Cecil Hurt (@CecilHurt) January 14, 2014
Pruitt inherited a talented defense at Florida State, even though it had lost some key pieces to the NFL Draft. He orchestrated a nationally top-ranked defensive effort from the Seminoles anyway in 2013, and the team captured the final BCS title.
He's also a star recruiter, ranking as 247 Sports' national recruiter of the year in 2012 and 2013. CBS Sports reports Georgia was impressed with Pruitt's knowledge of Dawg recruits.
Update, 4:38 p.m. ET: "I'm ecstatic," said Georgia head coach Mark Richt in a statement.
"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."
The 39-year-old hasn't been a coach at the college level for long, but he has quickly become a valued asset for major-conference schools. One reason for that: he got his start working for Nick Saban at Alabama. After working as an assistant for several years in the Alabama high school ranks, Pruitt initially was hired by Saban to serve as the Tide's director of player development in 2007. He worked in that role until 2010, when he became Alabama's defensive backs coach.
As a position coach for Saban, Pruitt helped Alabama put consistently outstanding defenses on the field, and the team won multiple BCS titles. His work caught the attention of Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher, who needed a replacement at defensive coordinator for Mark Stoops after Stoops accepted the head coaching job at Kentucky in 2012.
Fisher wanted someone who could bring Saban's defensive concepts to Tallahassee, and didn't fret about Pruitt's lack of experience:
"His knowledge of the game, his experience in how he has handled some things when he got on the [whiteboard] and his answers to playing spread things," Fisher said in 2012 of his hire. "He's had great success against the open teams that have been out there, from [Gus] Malzahn and all those guys in that league, and the way they've played and done those things. We have a great rapport, and he is no doubt ready to be a coordinator."
Like Saban, Pruitt makes defensive backs his specialty. And so far, he's had great ones:
Repost from earlier: Jeremy Pruitt's secondary national rankings: 2010 13th 2011 1st (BCS title) 2012 7th (BCS title) 2013 1st (BCS title)— Radi Nabulsi (@RadiNabulsi) January 14, 2014
As for what he inherits at Georgia, the Dawgs return most of their starters on a young and talented defense, which hadn't ranked highly in the last two years under Grantham. Transitioning from Grantham's 3-4 to Pruitt's system should not be a major challenge. Dawg Sports highly approves.
With another hole on his staff to fill, Fisher likely will try to bring in another guy who has familiarity with Saban's system. Tomahawk Nation points out Fisher's coaching budget recently increased, so expect a highly qualified name.