Georgia Football: Jeremy Pruitt Is Major Upgrade at DC for Bulldogs

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterJanuary 15, 2014

Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt
Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy PruittKirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

That sound you hear from Athens is Georgia head coach Mark Richt throwing down the gauntlet.

He's fed up with other SEC teams winning conference championships and playing for national titles, and he's not going to settle with mediocrity anymore.

Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt
Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy PruittKelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Richt pulled off one of the biggest coups of the offseason, hiring Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt away from the Seminoles to replace Todd Grantham. Grantham left the program last week to join Bobby Petrino's staff at Louisville, getting a hefty raise and extension in the process.

Georgia fans should be glad to see him go, because now the Bulldogs will pay Pruitt essentially the same amount they were paying Grantham, according to ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach.

Pruitt, who helped lead FSU to No. 1 ranking, will be paid $850K annually

— Mark Schlabach (@Mark_Schlabach) January 14, 2014

That's stealing by Richt.

Defensively, Georgia's biggest issue last year was its secondary.

The Bulldogs gave up 227.4 yards per game through the air last season, which was ninth in the SEC. On top of that, the secondary routinely struggled getting lined up, looked confused before the snap and blew assignments early and often.

A microcosm of Georgia's season came on that 99-yard touchdown by Nebraska in the Gator Bowl, when cornerback Shaq Wiggins played man and safety Quincy Mauger played zone. 

In his four years at Georgia, Grantham's defenses finished in the top 10 nationally once (2011). With an all-star roster in 2012 that included linebackers Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree, lineman John Jenkins and safety Bacarri Rambo, the Bulldogs finished 12th in the SEC in rush defense at 182.14 yards per game.

Georgia had a major coaching problem, which is no longer the case.

Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt
Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy PruittKelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Pruitt led Florida State to the nation's third-best defense in 2013 (281.4 YPG) and the No.1 pass defense (156.6 YPG). The Seminoles also led the nation with 26 interceptions after only nabbing 11 in 2012—the year before Pruitt arrived in Tallahassee.

He spent six years at Alabama working primarily with defensive backs, which not only serves Georgia's most pressing need but gave him even more direct experience with Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban, who's hands on with his secondary.

Save for defensive end Garrison Smith, Georgia will return all of its talented, yet underachieving, starting defense. Add in Pruitt, and you have a recipe for success.

Plus, Pruitt is known as an ace recruiter.

According to 247Sports.com, he was the top recruiter in the nation in 2012 and 2013. Grantham finished 29th and 46th in those years, respectively. 

Pruitt is a tremendous upgrade from Grantham and should get Georgia back into the mix for the SEC East in his first season in Athens.

 

*All state courtesy of CFBStats.com