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Jeff Schultz

Pruitt’s one great year a risk worth taking for Georgia

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Jeremy Pruitt coached one of the nation's top defenses in his lone season at Florida State.

Jeremy Pruitt coached one of the nation’s top defenses in his lone season at Florida State.

Home run.

The mixing of sports metaphors notwithstanding, that was my initial reaction when our Chip Towers broke the news that Georgia was hiring Florida State’s Jeremy Pruitt as its new defensive coordinator.

Now, it should be noted that Pruitt’s hiring comes with some risk. He has had a meteoric rise in the coaching profession. He was coaching high school football only seven years ago (Hoover, Ala.). He followed that with six years at Alabama under Nick Saban (three years as director of player development, three as defensive backs coach). Then came one year as the defensive coordinator at Florida State.

One. Just one. But it was a great one.

The Seminoles won the national championship. They finished ranked No. 3 in total defense, No. 1 in pass defense and No. 1 in scoring defense.

What makes this hire so shocking is not that Georgia coach Mark Richt was interested in Pruitt (even if he likely was the second choice to Alabama’s Kirby Smart). The remarkable thing is that Florida State let him go. He reportedly was making about $500,000 per year at FSU. Georgia was prepared to offer Pruitt or any candidate at least the $850,000 annually that they were paying the thankfully departed Todd Grantham. But why would FSU not bring him up to that level. Was the school really that cash-strapped?

I’ll have more on the Pruitt hiring in a full column to be posted later on MyAJC.com. But in short, this should be a significant step forward for Georgia, which returns 10 of 11 starters on defense next season.

The cyber floor is now yours.

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