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.