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January 14, 2014

Georgia hires Florida State's Pruitt to head defense

ATHENS — Georgia coach Mark Richt moved quickly to name a new defensive coordinator, hiring Jeremy Pruitt from Florida State on Tuesday, only two days after losing Todd Grantham to Louisville.

Richt said he is "ecstatic" to add Pruitt to the Georgia staff. Pruitt has coached on three straight national championship teams at Alabama and Florida State.

Under Pruitt, undefeated Florida State led the nation in scoring defense, allowing 12.1 points per game, and ranked third in total defense while winning the national championship.

Pruitt also was Florida State's defensive backs coach, and the Seminoles ranked second in the nation in passing efficiency defense.

Pruitt, who was in Athens on Tuesday, said the move to Georgia "is an outstanding professional and personal opportunity."

"I'm looking forward to meeting the current players and getting on the road to visit with recruits," Pruitt said.

Georgia expects to return 10 starters on defense.

Pruitt already has a close relationship with at least one Georgia assistant coach. Pruitt began his playing career at Middle Tennessee State before transferring to Alabama, where he was roommates with Georgia offensive line coach Will Friend.

Georgia did not release terms of Pruitt's contract. Grantham was earning $850,000. Pruitt, 39, earned $500,000 in 2013 and was expected to receive a raise at Florida State.

Before moving to Florida State, Pruitt was the secondary coach at Alabama for three seasons, including the Crimson Tide's national championship teams in 2011 and 2012.

With the Feb. 5 national signing day only three weeks away, Richt moved quickly to hire Pruitt, who is known as a strong recruiter.

Pruitt produced instant results in his one season at Florida State.

"He taught us the ins and outs of everything," Florida State safety Terrence Brooks said recently. "Just the way to pursue to the ball, the way to go get the ball, everything you can think about in football he's taught us. He really broke the game down to us as to why we're running this type of defense.

"He makes you understand it so much better and I feel like everyone bought into it and that's why we're so successful."

Grantham was named Louisville's defensive coordinator on Sunday. He was the second defensive assistant to leave Georgia. Secondary coach Scott Lakatos resigned on Thursday, citing undisclosed personal reasons.

Under Grantham, Georgia's defense produced mixed results.

In 2011, the Bulldogs ranked fifth in the nation in total defense. His 2012 defense was packed with talented players, sending seven players to the 2013 NFL draft, but was perceived as underachieving.

Grantham had to rebuild the defense in 2013, when Georgia ranked only eighth in the Southeastern Conference in total defense and 78th in the nation in scoring defense. Georgia gave up 29 points per game to rank 78th in the nation as the Bulldogs finished 8-5.

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