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Can UGA really land an elite DB out of Alabama?

UGA head coach Mark Richt chats with defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt in Athens on June 5, 2015  (Sonny Kennedy/ Special to the AJC)

UGA head coach Mark Richt chats with defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt in Athens on June 5, 2015 (Sonny Kennedy/ Special to the AJC)

What would be a way to show just how good of a recruiter Jeremy Pruitt is for UGA?

If the UGA’s ace recruiter hasn’t already proven his skills enough, he could earn even more respect by becoming a serious threat by recruiting in Alabama’s backyard.

Malcom Askew almost committed to UGA earlier this month. He’s a 4-star cornerback from the Birmingham area. The rising junior recently told the AJC that the Bulldogs are still his leader, and that he will return for Dawg Night prospect camp on July 18.

Nick Saban’s program has continually gone into Georgia and lured marquee recruits to Tuscaloosa. It would be a major coup for the Georgia staff to return the favor on Alabama’s home turf.

“I think Alabama doesn’t want Georgia to take another kid away from them,” Askew said. “You know they got Rico McGraw (from Nashville) last year. … I don’t think they want to see Pruitt take another kid away from Alabama. Especially another kid (like me) from someplace right here on Bama’s backdoor.”

Pruitt helped land McGraw because he never stopped recruiting him. The defensive back was a rare recruit who flipped from UGA to Alabama and then back to UGA. Signing Askew would be another show of strength. He said he’s taken more than 20 trips to Tuscaloosa since he was identified as a prospect.

Georgia hasn’t signed a prep player credited with an Alabama offer from that state since Ben Jones in 2008, but he was just a three-star prospect. The inroads are being constructed with a heavy Alabama influence on the Georgia staff, starting with Pruitt.

He spent several seasons at the Director of Player Development at Alabama and another three years on the field as defensive backs coach. UGA linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer was also the Director of Player Development in Alabama for three years. Those two spent many years coaching high school football for the dominant program in Alabama (Hoover), and they have strong relationships with the high school coaches in that state.

Nick Saban (AP)

Nick Saban (AP)

Pruitt and Sherrer have been recruiting Askew for some time. UGA was the first school to offer him a scholarship. The first big-time college game he attended was the thrilling Clemson tilt last season in Athens.

Askew said that Alabama has a mentality with the in-state kids that their work is done once they have offered a scholarship.

“They feel like with their background and their track record that everyone from in-state is going to come here (to Alabama),” Askew said. “That’s just the way I think Alabama feels. I hate to say that, but Bama is one of those schools that think because of everything they have done in the past and what they  have accomplished having the No. 1 recruiting class the last five years that everyone wants to go there.”

Askew said he has an offer he can commit to from Alabama. He noted that the pull an Alabama prospect feels to play for the Crimson Tide is substantial.

“They know that kids want to come to Alabama,” Askew said. “They feel like that now we have offered you that you know you want to come to Alabama. Go ahead and come to Bama. We are going to get you to the NFL. We are going to do all these things. We are the big dog. Nobody can beat us and stuff like that.”

Askew said there’s a weakness to that strategy. He notices a difference when schools like Georgia and Ole Miss recruit him compared to Alabama. They make him feel he’s both wanted and needed.

“Then it is like Bama is not doing what these other schools are doing,” he said. “Alabama is not recruiting me like these other schools.”

Jeff Sentell covers UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.

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