One of the faithful narratives of a certain segment of the Georgia fan base eager to see Mark Richt shown the exit door was that the man’s ability to recognize talent was overrated — this was, after all, a coach who pursued Cam Newton as a tight end, we were told repeatedly. Obviously, judgment like that was prima facie evidence that Richt was unqualified to run a football program.
Nah, you need someone whose eye for talent is unimpeachable. You know, somebody like Jeremy Pruitt, who could be counted on to identify the perfect future for a recruit. Like Lamar Jackson, for example.
Jackson has said that as a recruit he heard from at least one SEC football program recruiting him to play safety, though he hadn’t played safety in high school.
“Georgia said they wanted me at safety,” Jackson said in a 2016 interview prior to his Heisman Trophy-winning season. “They were out of the equation right after they said that. …
“I think it was the defensive coordinator. He called me and was like, ‘I like your speed. I think you’d be a great fit at safety.’ I was like, ‘Coach, I play quarterback.’ He was like, ‘Well, here’s the offensive coordinator.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m not going there.'”
This would have been former coach Mark Richt’s staff at UGA, and the defensive coordinator – assuming that was the coach who called Jackson – would have likely been Jeremy Pruitt, who went on to become the head coach at Tennessee.
The point here isn’t to knock Pruitt’s judgment. After all, he was far from alone in recognizing Jackson’s ability to play the quarterback position in college. Nor is it to immunize Richt against all criticism. But, man, was that “Cam as a tight end” meme dumb.