ATHENS, Ga. — When just hired Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt walked into a meeting room – along with fiancée Casey East – on Tuesday to address Bulldogs defensive players for the first time, applause broke out.
The players erupted again when the assistant who had just jumped from Florida State was done addressing the guys he will now coach.
“I’ve never seen that happen in a meeting since I’ve been coaching for 30-some years,” said coach Mark Richt, who hired Pruitt after one season as defensive coordinator on the Seminoles national title staff. “It doesn’t mean we’re going to win a bunch of games, it doesn’t mean anything other than I think we got their attention. I think they’re excited.”
Pruitt’s hire, which came just two days after Todd Grantham told him he was leaving for Louisville, has been well-received by Georgia fans.
“You know you’re at the right school where football is important when you got as many folks here as you did at the national championship game for the interviews, for our press conference,” Pruitt said.
Pruitt has been on staffs that have won the past three national titles – two at Alabama and one at Florida State.
After three seasons as secondary coach at Alabama, Pruitt guided a Florida State defense that led the nation in scoring defense.
“Just thankful we got him,” Richt said. “It was kind of a no-brainer on the résumé part.”
Pruitt will run a 3-4 defense that he said will be multiple.
“We want be sound, we want to be aggressive, but we want to make the other team earn it,” the 39-year old Pruitt said.
The warm January reception might not always be there, like if he’s chewing some out on the practice field in spring ball – but for now it’s honeymoon time for Pruitt and Georgia.
“It made me feel good, it really did,” he said. “I recruited some of them. I think that will help in the room with some of the relationships I built while I recruited some of these guys.”