Richt making big splash with defensive staff

dshirley@macon.comJanuary 31, 2014 

Georgia Pruitts Challenge Football

DAVID TULLIS/ASSOCIATED PRESSJeremy Pruitt, left, is about to start his first spring practice as Georgia’s defensive coordinator.

DAVE TULIS — AP

After the season, Georgia head coach Mark Richt said he wasn’t planning to shake up his defensive coaching staff.

And Bulldogs fans everywhere groaned.

Most fans wanted to see changes to a staff on the side of the ball that has struggled for two straight years, but Richt wasn’t inclined to make any changes, unless the coaches found other opportunities to draw them away from the program. As it turned out, those fans got exactly what they wanted as each coach on Georgia’s defensive staff -- coordinator Todd Grantham, line coach Chris Wilson, linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti and secondary coach Scott Lakatos -- all moved on (Grantham, Wilson and Olivadotti left for other jobs, while Lakatos stepped down for personal reasons).

And that might be exactly what the Georgia program needed (except maybe for Wilson and Olivadotti), especially considering who the Bulldogs have landed to take those spots.

That starts with new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who left the same spot with Florida State to take over the Bulldogs’ defense. After having a defense struggle the way the Bulldogs struggled last year, landing the defensive coordinator from the national champion Florida State Seminoles was a huge get for Richt and his program.

Since then, Pruitt and Richt have hired Kevin Sherrer, who spent this past year as South Alabama’s defensive coordinator and has ties to Pruitt, and Tracy Rocker, who has coached all over the SEC and spent the past three years coaching in the NFL.

Next up, we’ll have to see who the final hire will be and if someone will coordinate the Bulldogs’ special teams (something Georgia fans would love to see). And we’ll also have to see how these four coaches work together and work with the talent on the Georgia roster before we can know these were the right hires.

But before a game has been played with this staff, it feels like Richt has made the right moves and moved the program forward with these hires.

That starts with recruiting. Georgia’s defensive staff, outside of Wilson, wasn’t exactly made up of world beaters on the recruiting trail. Pruitt certainly is known as a strong recruiter while the other three spots are wild cards. That said, it can’t hurt to get some new blood in those spots and see if they can improve the program’s recruiting efforts.

That would be a big boost for the program in what will be a year of transition, and that’s a transition most Georgia fans are excited to see.

Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or dshirley@macon.com

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