A note on the coaching vacancies

semerson@macon.comJanuary 22, 2014 

Jeremy Pruitt, left, and Mark Richt address the media at a news conference Wednesday in Athens.

SETH EMERSON — semerson@macon.com

ATHENS - Georgia still has three vacancies on the defensive coaching staff, and it's not because Mark Richt and Jeremy Pruitt are sitting on a beach somewhere drinking margaritas. Here's why the jobs haven't been filled yet:

- Recruiting. Pruitt's first order of business has been to hit the recruiting trail, getting acquainted with players Georgia had been recruiting, and pursuing players that are new to Georgia's list. And that goes for both the 2014 and 2015 classes. In fact, Georgia got two big recruits for the 2015 class over the weekend, in Terry Godwin and Rico McGraw. Pruitt's hiring last Wednesday came a day before the re-start of the recruiting period, so he and Richt elected to prioritize recruiting rather than jumping into the coaching search.

- Timing. This time last week, Richt and Pruitt thought they would have just one opening, for an outside linebackers coach. But later that day the other two spots opened. Then the recruiting period began. So at that point Richt had three defensive openings, and the only one he had been prepared for - secondary coach, after Scott Lakatos resigned the prior week - had essentially been filled by Pruitt. So Richt hasn't really had much time to sift through candidates and conduct interviews. That doesn't mean he hasn't talked to anyone yet, but pulling the trigger is a different matter.

- Waiting on Florida State. As I wrote last Friday, Pruitt would likely prefer to bring an assistant or two with him from Tallahassee, but Jimbo Fisher has to appoint a defensive coordinator first. That hasn't happened as of Wednesday morning. Two FSU assistants, Charles Kelly and Sal Sunseri, would be candidates to come to Georgia, but they would also be candidates for a promotion at FSU. It's possible Pruitt could just get tired of waiting and move on, but it hasn't reached that point yet.

- The GA activation. Georgia may be down three assistant coaches, but it's still at the maximum 10 recruiters, with graduate assistants Christian Robinson, Mike Macdonald and Dan Inman being promoted into a recruiting role, as the NCAA allows, until the coaching spots are filled. Now of course Georgia would prefer to have full-time coaches in place, so prospective recruits know who their position coach will be. But they know who their defensive coordinator will be, and in the meantime Robinson and co. are able to step up and provide manpower on the recruiting trail.

Ultimately, I would expect Georgia to fill at least one or two of the vacancies by signing day, and perhaps all three. But there's no indication that anything is imminent (except, as it turns out, for one hiring), and it's not unprecedented to go through signing day with an opening on the staff: Will Friend and Kirk Olivadotti were each hired after signing day in 2011. It's not ideal, but the sense I get is Richt and Pruitt would prefer not to rush into a hire just for the sake of having someone in place.

Note: Obviously once I posted this update one new hire did come to light. It should be noted that Kevin Sherrer and Pruitt go way back, so that made the timing of Sherrer's hire easier.

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