ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia’s new defensive coordinator is Jeremy Pruitt, a fast-rising assistant in the college ranks who was plucked off the national championship staff of Florida State.
Pruitt ran the Seminoles defense for one season as its coordinator after spending three seasons as secondary coach at Alabama.
Georgia coach Mark Richt had a succinct statement about the hire when the school made it official Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m ecstatic,” he said.
Richt landed Pruitt in warp speed, less than 48 hours after news broke that Todd Grantham was leaving after four seasons to become defensive coordinator at Louisville.
Florida State led the nation in scoring defense last season (12.1 points per game), ranked tied for second in turnovers gained (35) and third in total defense, (281.4 yards per game).
“This is an outstanding professional and personal opportunity,” Pruitt said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to meeting the current players and getting on the road to visit with recruits.”
With a recruiting contact period starting Thursday, Pruitt will do just that. First, he’ll meet with the media at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Like Grantham, he worked under Nick Saban in a base 3-4 scheme so the Bulldogs shouldn’t need an overhaul on defense.
“It’s been eight years ago I’m lining off fields, I’m washing practice uniforms, I’m going to pick up guys,” Jeremy Pruitt, 39, told reporters before the BCS national championship game. “I’ve been very fortunate to be around really good programs, a lot of good guys.”
“BIG hire for the Dawgs!!!,” ESPN analyst Kirk Herbsteit tweeted when asked about the Pruitt hire.
Pruitt will take over a Georgia defense that ranked tied for 78th in scoring defense, 45th in total defense and 109th in turnovers gained.
Pruitt should get a hefty boost in compensation. He was earning $503,450 at Florida State. Grantham was making $850,000 a year.
“That doesn’t hurt,” said Rush Propst, who Pruitt worked for at Hoover. “When you’re in this profession, you have to strike when the iron’s hot. That additional $300,000 or more that you make, if you take it over a three year span, that becomes a million dollars. ... It’s very hard to stay on top and as an assistant coach. It’s harder to stay on it then it is to get to it.”
Georgia and Pruitt have agreed to terms verbally, athletic director Greg McGarity said, but the program has not released the length of the contract and his total compensation, nor if Georgia will pay Pruitt’s buyout to his former school.