Q&A: Jeremy Pruitt hits ground running on recruiting

It hasn’t exactly been a glamorous existence for Jeremy Pruitt since he accepted Georgia’s defensive coordinator position Jan. 14. For starters, he’s been living in offensive line coach Will Friend’s basement since then.

It’s not so bad, Pruitt insisted. “It’s finished,” he said. “You just go in there and sleep a few hours at night. And we’ve been on the road a lot. So …”

So Pruitt has been in Athens for three weeks without his fiancee, and his 18-year-old son remains home with his mother. But the reality is, there hasn’t been time for much other than football.

He hit the ground running the moment he set his feet on Clarke County soil and has stayed intensely busy not just recruiting for this year, but for next year, too. In addition to recruiting travel, that has meant hours of video review whenever he was in the office.

“That’s all I do anyhow,” Pruitt deadpanned.

Pruitt sat down with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday shortly after the Bulldogs put the finishing touches on the 2014 recruiting class to answer some questions about his frenzied transition from FSU to Georgia.

Q: How tough was it to take the handoff on Georgia’s recruiting so soon after leaving FSU?

A: Well, we haven't been picking up from scratch. Coach Richt had everything organized. I can't say enough about the job coach Richt and (offensive coordinator Mike) Bobo and coach Friend and (wide receivers coach Tony) Ball and (tight ends coach) John Lilly and all the other coaches have done. Those guys were sitting there holding a recruiting class together. Those are the guys who have done all the work. They had to double up for everybody for a while. Coach Richt laid out a plan of what he wanted when I got here, and we just kind of stuck to the plan. It's not a lot of different than wherever you might be.

Q: Was there some crossover on recruits?

A: There was a little bit of crossover. The difference was we'd been done with kids at Florida State for a while. There wasn't as much evaluation to be done. I hadn't done any evaluation for quite some time. There were a few guys that were different on the board here that I wasn't familiar with or I hadn't seen their senior tape. But there were a lot of good guys on the board here, and I'm proud of the guys we got.

Q: What kind of evaluation did you have to do?

A: When we got here, we wanted to see who the best players were in Georgia and the guys we might want to try to fill the last few spots. We actually watched every piece of tape we could get on the top 120 players in the state of Georgia. We were trying to figure out the guys we wanted to take a shot at, and there were a couple of guys out of state we wanted to look at.

Q: Since you run more four-man front, does that require recruiting different personnel?

A: You throw out what personnel you are. You can say you're 3-4 or 4-3, 4-2-5, multiple. That's what we are, we're multiple. If you watched (FSU) play last year, we played a lot of four-man front, probably about 80 percent of the time. But the guys who stand up in a 3-4 defense as an outside linebacker in essence are a defensive end.

Q: How would you compare the recruiting dynamics of Georgia with FSU?

A: The state of Georgia, the amount of players it produces is probably more than any state in the South (per capita). That's a tribute to the high school coaches in this state. Some of the best coaching in the Southeast is in the state of Georgia. So everybody can come in here and recruit. That had something to do with it.

Q: How tough is it to sit around all day on national signing day waiting on the whims of 17- and 18-year-olds after working so feverishly for weeks?

A: It's kind of like on a Thursday afternoon (of a game week); the hay's kind of in the barn. We'll focus on the ones we get and go from there. We started already on the 2015 class. One of the things that excites me is the guys on this staff like to recruit. Hopefully this time next year we can move on up the ladder a little bit as far as where we finish.

Q: What will your approach be with the defense going forward. You have 10 starters coming back, but will every job be open?

A: Absolutely. Everybody's got a clean slate. To me, that's the way it will be every spring. It's not about what you did last year. It's about what you're going to do going forward. I'd say every job is open. I'm not really concerned about what happened in the past from this point on.

Q: Do you feel like your presence made an impact on this recruiting class?

A: Every kid that came here came because it's Georgia and Mark Richt. You never recruit to an assistant coach. You recruit to the university and the head coach. I think that's the reason kids choose a school.