Georgia’s latest verbal commitment was impressed with the crowd at the Georgia Tech game, but he was even more impressed by something else:
The atmosphere was a factor, but Briscoe said the most impressive part of Georgia’s pitch was Coach Mark Richt’s commitment to building a championship-caliber staff.
Defensive Coordinator Jeremy Pruitt won three national championships as a coordinator at Florida State in 2013 and a defensive backfield coach at Alabama in 2011 and 2012. Pruitt’s position group produced two first-round picks in the 2011 NFL Draft in safety Mark Barron and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. Georgia also tapped Alabama for Mark Hocke, whom the school announced as Director of Strength and Conditioning on Dec. 21.
“I want to be coached to my best ability,” Briscoe said. “Going after guys like that, that have won national championships, it’s pretty special.”
Briscoe said Pruitt stressed the opportunities available for a deep class of defensive backs to contribute as true freshmen.
There is something about the intensity of this year’s approach to recruiting that is different from what we’ve seen before. And it’s having an effect.
Georgia retakes the No. 1 spot from Alabama, which had taken the national lead from the Bulldogs. Mark Richt’s program has never been a highly ranked in recruiting rankings as they are currently. In fact, in the past five years Richt’s program has averaged a 5th-place finish in recruiting rankings in the SEC.
Yeah, yeah, I know all the usual caveats apply about getting the horses in the barn first. But this isn’t a post about prematurely counting chickens. It’s about what Pruitt has brought to this program in less than one year.
- Coaching. Nationally, Georgia is currently 16th in defensive scoring, 5th in passing defense, 20th in total defense and 16th in takeaways. All of those are significant improvements over the 2013 results. When you consider all the departures on that side of the ball and what Pruitt had to work with this season, that’s little short of miraculous.
- Recruiting. See above. There’s little question how much more aggressive Georgia appears on the recruiting trail than in years past. And it’s not as if the pre-Pruitt staff had a bunch of slackers on it. These guys are challenging and they’re doing it everywhere. They’ve locked down most of the top prospects in state even as a significant part of this upcoming class will come from outside Georgia.
- Attitude. You don’t have to scream on the sidelines to have an edge. He’s not the most diplomatic of people – bitching about how the lack of an IPF is affecting recruiting while you’re bringing in what looks to be Georgia’s deepest class ever is certainly nervy – but he’s got a clear vision of what he wants and isn’t afraid to make that known. That approach seems to be rubbing off on Mark Richt, too.
We were excited when the announcement came about Pruitt joining the staff because of his track record on the field at FSU and Alabama. But I don’t think anyone expected the total package he’s brought. I just wonder about how this holds together. I’m not one to say he’s always right, but it’s clear Pruitt’s motivated by a desire to get what he thinks is best for the program’s success, damn the consequences. Let’s just say that while that may be an attitude appreciated in many places, it’s a big time culture clash in Athens. Something’s bound to give, no?