“Let’s get caught up on recruiting before we even start talking about football.”

Jeremy Pruitt hasn’t coached a down of defense in Athens yet, but it seems like he’s already had a profound impact on his boss.

“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).”

It’s no secret that the coaching world has gotten more aggressive on the recruiting front during Richt’s time in Athens.  And it’s been more than a little frustrating watching Richt deal with that in fits and spurts.  A lot of that comes from – dare I say it? – Richt having scruples.

“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.”

All of which is admirable.  But it can leave you in a hole while every other program in competition for talent goes full-bore after it.  The solution would seem to be a combination of better organization, better focus and harder work.

The good news is that Richt seems to recognize that.

“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.”

How much of that came to Richt on his own and how much of that was inspired by the coaching change and the addition of a new perspective is impossible to say right now.  But it’s sure going to be interesting to look back on the Pruitt hire in about five years’ time to measure its impact.

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20 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

20 responses to ““Let’s get caught up on recruiting before we even start talking about football.”

  1. DawgPhan

    It probably doesn’t hurt that he has the 3 best recruiters in the country on staff. It’s easy to play a little faster when you have the horses.

  2. “How much of that came to Richt on his own and how much of that was inspired by the coaching change and the addition of a new perspective is impossible to say right now.”

    Very true point, but the bigger point to me is that regardless of where the inspiration came from, Richt is willing to set his ego aside and continue to evolve. We’ve all seen coaches who are certain their way is the best way despite all evidence to the contrary. And I think earlier in his tenure here, there was some of that stubbornness there, culminating in the “never been in the arena” comment. But since 2009/2010, somewhere in that area, he has really seemed to go out of his way to be open to new ideas. There are still valid criticisms of Richt, but his willingness to attempt to adapt and grow can’t be challenged. Another example is him restructuring the special teams coaching…….that was one last piece of stubbornness he had really hung on to, but has even changed that.

    • There are still valid criticisms of Richt, but his willingness to attempt to adapt and grow can’t be challenged.

      That’s a good point.

      And I would say, some personnel issues aside, he’s been that way since he arrived. After that first season, when he realized his end-of-game (or half) time management skills were lacking, he hired Homer Smith to come in and help. He immediately improved , and today there’s not a better time manager in the game, college or pro, IMHO.

      For about 10 years now, I’ve wanted him to bring in a ‘Homer Smith’ to help him with the psychological/mental aspect of the team and the program. Because that has been his weak point as a head coach. Not that’s it’s all bad, but it’s hurt us more than anything else not directly related to hands-on coaching.

      I wish he would. But having said that, if Pruitt is the guy that I think he is, just having the defensive side really competent and together will automatically help that situation. Our mental/psychological health should improve. Certainly it won’t be near as difficult to manage. And it may be good enough to skate by, as it was in Richt’s early years, when VanGorder had his defensive back.

      But I still think Richt could use the help there, if he doesn’t outright need it. He’s a very good coach right now, great in some ways, outstanding in many ways. But I want him to ascend to the very highest level as a head coach.

      So I wish he would.
      ~~~

  3. Spence

    I support all that… but hopefully there’s a little coaching happening for the defense right now too!

  4. Spike

    Hope and Change…

  5. Kevin

    I firmly believe Pruitt came to UGA with the intention of being a long-term guy. I also believe he thinks he could some day be head coach at UGA when the time comes.

    • Spence

      I want to believe you’re right, but I can’t ignore that he left FSU after winning a championship for more money. I don’t blame him, but that fact is suggestive of future behavior. It’s hard to see him staying after he gets offered a head coaching job worth more than his current salary, or even after a raise or two.

    • I firmly believe Pruitt came to UGA with the intention of being a long-term guy.

      Me too. That’s part of the reason that it’s been so incredible. Not only just Pruitt, but the entire staff has the potential to be together for a long time. They’re all good coaches, but none are head-coach types.
      ~~~

  6. Krautdawg

    Anyone else see a potential connection between Saban’s opposition to the HUNH offense and this?

    “Pruitt gained a lot of experience working three years as an assistant for the most decorated recruiter in college football (Nick Saban) at Alabama. … [UGA coaches are] already set up to where 50-percent of the time is football and 50-percent of the time is recruiting.”

    All that recruiting presumably means you don’t have a lot of time to spend on developing new defensive schemes & drills.

  7. mdcgtp

    To quote Justice Potter Stewart, “i know it when I see it.” Honestly, this is 100% hard core Dawg porn.

    To expand briefly on the Reverend’s point above, Richt is evolving in many ways. Sometimes it happens slower than we would like, but the expansion of the number of prospects that we look at and the timeline to process those evaluations is frankly huge.

    Ultimately, there are only a handful of prospects that are “can’t miss,” and the rest are all either projects or crapshoots. The way to minimize the impact on any one of those prospects disappointing you is to have a deeper pool of guys to choose from. That said, I think it is telling that our previous defensive staff was slower to reach conclusions on players, which had a downstream impact on those player’s perceptions of our level of interest.

  8. More and more, as time goes by, it seems that we have finally gotten the defensive side of ball straightened out. And strengthened the staff as a whole to boot. How good does that feel?
    ~~~

  9. “But it’s sure going to be interesting to look back on the Pruitt hire in about five years’ time to measure its impact.”
    5 years? I hope we can discuss this in 3.
    just sayin’

  10. DawgByte

    No games have been played yet, however early indications would suggest that the program is heading in the right direction. It’s hard to believe Pruitt would not be an upgrade over Grantham. Our D was clearly headed in the wrong direction.

  11. Lorenzo Dawgriguez

    I am so grateful Bobby Petrino is a dumbass