The true impact of new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt on UGA’s recruiting efforts won’t be known until later this year with the team’s 2015 class.
But there’s no doubt that Pruitt has impressed his boss so far.
“He came straight from his vacation to accepting the job,” UGA coach Mark Richt told the AJC. “He came straight in and started working. The first thing he did was to start watching videos of our (2014) commitments and anybody else in the state of Georgia that was on our board at one time or another, and that might’ve been committed to another school. I was like ‘Let’s just see who he wants to offer and try go to recruit.’ There was just a little time left before signing day.”
“And after signing day, my thought was that the first thing Jeremy was going to do with that defensive staff was to gather them together and teach them the system. Well, the first thing he wanted to do was look at ’15 and ’16 kids together as a staff. He knew we were behind on the defensive side of the ball with making offers and seeing film because of what had happened (with the coaching changes).
“His first thought was ‘Let’s get caught up on recruiting before we even start talking about football. We’ll have plenty of time to do that before we get started in the spring.’”
UGA’s approach to recruiting is undergoing changes, and you’re already seeing signs of that with how the Bulldogs are staggering unofficial visits over numerous weekends with top high school juniors so the coaches can more one-on-one time with them (as opposed to always-chaotic and overcrowded Junior Days that colleges are famous for having).
Richt is working with new UGA Recruiting Coordinator Bryan McClendon and Pruitt, among others, on modifications. Pruitt gained a lot of experience working three years as an assistant for the most decorated recruiter in college football (Nick Saban) at Alabama, along serving as defensive coordinator for FSU’s national championship team.
“I told McClendon, ‘Let’s look at what we do on a daily basis for the year and let’s get a plan for the amount of time that we’re going to spend as a staff on recruiting. So really, we’re already set up to where 50-percent of the time is football and 50-percent of the time is recruiting between now and the beginning of spring ball.
“Every single day, we’re evaluating film and making decisions on kids that are ’15 , ’16 and ’17 or whatever comes down the pipe, and making contact with the ones we’re allowed to, and talking to high school coaches.”
While doing the interview, Richt sat at a table in his plush office that overlooked UGA’s practice fields.
“For example, what you have at this table is all the linebackers that need to be viewed,” he explained. He then pointed to a small part of the table.
“If you’ve only see this many and you make your offers based on this, then when you start seeing the rest, it’s like ‘Man, I wished I had offered that guy before this one.’ If you can see a bigger pool before you say ‘This is who I want,’ then you make better decision. It’s better for your kids, and it’s better for your program.
“But if you’re making offers fast because you don’t want to get behind, and a kid says he wants to come but you say ‘well, that’s not a committable offer’ … We are not going to do that here at the University of Georgia. We want to be thorough and we want to be truthful about what we’re telling a guy.”
Again, it’s still early and you’ll need to wait until we get much closer to next February’s signing day to get a better idea of Pruitt’s total impact on UGA’s recruiting efforts. But Pruitt has already gotten some rave reviews from high school coaches in Gwinnett and DeKalb counties – two fertile areas for college prospects where the Bulldogs have struggled in recent years.
“Jeremy is a genuine guy, and a down-to-earth guy … so sure, coaches like him,” Richt said. “They’re going to love Ekeler, and Rocker is an Atlanta guy. He’s a Georgia guy who went to high school to Atlanta. He’s got a tremendous reputation, and people have a lot of respect for Rocker.
“So we absolutely strengthened ourselves in this area of recruiting.”
The rest of UGA’s new defensive staff consists of assistants Tracy Rocker, Mike Ekeler, and Kevin Sherrer.
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