Richt hires all-star staff to replace Grantham

Photo by Rob Saye

Most of the time when a coach leaves a team for another position it is an upgrade over his previous position or a move to advance his career, but this was not the case when Todd Grantham left Mark Richt’s staff for the same position at Louisville. He was the defensive coordinator from 2010-2013 at the University of Georgia and brought to the team a 3-4 defensive scheme. He departed weeks before signing day in a surprise move that left many in shock.


Grantham sent many of his players to the NFL during his time at Georgia, including Justin Houston, Alec Ogletree, Jarvis Jones and several others. While he had some of the most talented defenses in the country, he was not always able to get the most out of them. The past few seasons the offense has been one of the best in the country, but the defense has continually put the team in tough situations. While Grantham may think his defenses were the reason that Georgia claimed the 2011 and 2012 SEC East division crowns, that was not the case. These titles were claimed by the offense even while they were being dragged down by a defense that lacked the fire of the “Junkyard Dawgs” that had defined Georgia for so many years. This coaching change also led for many of his defensive assistants to leave as well. Chris Wilson, Kirk Olivadotti and Scott Lakatos all will be elsewhere this upcoming season, which meant the Mark Richt had to construct a new staff from scratch. He started by hitting homerun with new defensive coordinator Jer-emy Pruitt. Pruitt had previously served as the defensive coordinator at Florida State, leading them to the 2013 BCS National Championship.


He is an up-and-coming talent in the coaching world, and Mark Richt found exactly the right man for the job of rebuilding the Geor-gia defense. Pruitt is going to make his players work for what they are given which means the complacency of the past seasons should stay in the past. There is plenty of talent on the defense for him to build one of the best in the SEC next season, but he will need help from his staff. He constructed a staff around what he does well and what he is comfortable doing. His first hire was friend and former colleague Kevin Sherrer, who will be in charge of the Sam linebackers and the Star position (a hybrid safety/linebacker position) that will feature Josh Harvey-Clemons this season.

Next came Tracy Rocker, who brings SEC playing and coaching experience the defensive line. He was last seen in the college ranks at Auburn coaching All-American Nick Fairley. He should bring a tenacity that has been missing along the line since Rodney Garner left to take Rocker’s po-sition at Auburn. Pruitt finished his staff with Mike Ekeler, who will be coaching the insidelinebackers. These pieces will allow Pruitt to focus on the secondary and work with the young talent in the back end of the defense and develop them to play the schemes that are utilized in his defense. One of the staples of his defense that is different from Grantham’s is that he lets his players play and react to the ball instead of the complicated NFL-like schemes Grantham preferred.

Pruitt wants to teach his players to play more instinctually, which will make the defense more effective. It will also utilize the speed that makes Georgia’s players special. As long as Pruitt can instill his methods and ideals into his players, Georgia’s defense will be much improved over the years with Grantham at the helm. With the two leading tacklers in the SEC coming back next season, Pruitt will have two anchors to solidify the middle of the field and to push the ball carriers outside to the athletes on the perimeter. It is very rare that a coach leaves a program on his own free will and the program comes out on top. With Grantham leaving, Richt finds himself with an upgrade at defensive coordinator and a new fire around his foot-ball team. The Bulldogs already have momen-tum on their side and they haven’t even taken a snap with their new coaching staf

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