From the January 14, 2014 What We are Hearing:
"The pieces to the puzzle are there, but they have to be put in the right spots – that's Pruitt's job from here on out. And much like at Florida State, Pruitt will have the defense to himself to run."
Pruitt certainly has the defense to himself, and he's been pulling the strings that he wants pulled to make the secondary, specifically, a little more to his liking. How?
From the February 17, 2014 What We are Hearing:
"(Pruitt) had a serious discussion with the young and, at times troubled, secondary. He let them know in no uncertain terms that if they screwed up again they would be done. They had one chance left. The room understood. Time will tell if they will continue to understand."
They haven't' understood. In that time one player has transferred (Shaq Wiggins), one has been thrown off the team (Josh Harvey-Clemons), one has moved to offense (Brendan Langley) and one was arrested for a rather unimpressive move (that still has some in the department shaking their heads) to cash checks twice (Tray Matthews).
In other words the youngsters in the secondary are testing Pruitt. There are a few ways to look at this – Pruitt didn't recruit any of those players, so he doesn't owe them anything; Pruitt didn't recruit any of those players, so he doesn't think they are very good; Pruitt didn't recruit any of those players, so he doesn't think they are of ideal measurables to play for him.
One thing is certain to me: Pruitt's head is going to blow up if the stupidity in the secondary continues. That, or he's going to run every one off the roster. As I said in February:
"Yhe stamp Pruitt has put on the Bulldogs has only just started…"
There were big plans for Wilkerson last season before he got hurt. I've heard not one bad word about Parrish and believe that he will start at some point in the fall if not the entire year. Fenteng wasn't recruited out of junior college to hang out in the lobby of the Tate Center looking at girls – he's there to play right now.
The defense is Pruitt's to run – and everyone can tell. This isn't something new. Grantham had pretty much full say on what he wanted to do on defense under Richt. Pruitt's influence is seeping through the program as well.
I do know that some of the players are, how do you say, taking some time getting used to his style. He's not necessarily about comfort – I'll put it that way. But when I heard him up close on G Day with his defense he was very instructive – no screaming at them.
But Pruitt is going to be judged on the results – not his style. Mike Bobo has proved what he can do with an offense… Pruitt has, too… Richt is just hoping that the two of them can deliver a national title before head coaching gigs become too much for that duo to turn down. Trust me when I tell you that both will likely be head coaches one day. Bobo's move has been smoother because it has been over a decade; but Pruitt's has been noticeable, too, even in the short amount of time he's been in college coaching.
The staff, too, is about as in sync with one another as has been the case in Athens since the early days of the Mark Richt era – maybe more than then even. Age has to do something with it. Bobo, Pruitt, Will Friend, Mike Ekeler and Kevin Sherrer are all about 40 or younger.
This is one of the younger staffs Richt has put together.
From April 1, 2014 What We are Hearing:
"Those concerns defensively had lead to a search in Athens to sign a JUCO player now, or this summer, to play in the 2014 season in the secondary and on the defensive line. I don't know who or what is out there, but Georgia is looking – even looking to sign and place a high school player."
I think that's still going, but one thing is certain – Pruitt, like Grantham (and probably every coach in America) wants defensive backs that are over 6-0, anything under is going to probably get a pass unless they are a freak.
So what really happened? Why did Shaq Wiggins leave Georgia? From what I was told it was very simple.
Pruitt told those defenders who were planning on playing to be in Athens in May. Wiggins wasn't. End of story. May is one of the few times in the year the kids can go back home, but often many of the players stay in town. Apparently Pruitt very seriously encouraged the defense (and maybe just the secondary) to stay around. Why? I'm not totally sure, but the secondary is a wreck right now, and that group being together in May would help it to come together a little more than if they were not together.
Or maybe it was just a matter of seeing who was serious about playing. The criticism of Wiggins was the he was not serious enough… and that was known for a long, long time. It is his personality. He's just being himself. Pruitt is just coaching the way he feels like he needs to. Coach, in this case, trumps the player. Brent Benedict, a quality kid, had the same sort of player-coach issue (his was in the weight room) and left a few spring ago and is a rising senior at Virginia Tech.
These things happen, but Georgia could absorb the loss of Benedict. The Dawgs will need to absorb the loss of Wiggins by a newcomer stepping up and playing well right away, and that's always possible (Isaiah Crowell-Todd Gurley), but it is certainly nerve-racking before you've found a certain answer.
Other quick hits:
It may go unnoticed, but the Athens Banner-Herald's Marc Weiszer did some solid reporting and found out that both LSU assistant Korey McCray (formerly an assistant at UCLA, a former Atlanta Celtics player and coach and former Mercer player) and Miller Grove High coach Sharman White both applied for the vacant assistant basketball coach position that former Samford assistant Yasir Rosemond got on Friday.
I'd never heard of Rosemond until early last week. I played AAU with McCray, so obviously I knew his name two decades ago. I was, frankly, very, very surprised that McCray would apply for the job and not get it. I could see passing over White, who has limited (if any… I'm not doing any research into his background for a What We are Hearing) college coaching experience.
If there is someone that's more connected in Atlanta-area recruiting than McCray I don't know that person (maybe, and I mean maybe former Georgia Tech current Georgia State assistant Darryl LaBarrie). This is going to be interesting to watch because Mark Fox is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.
McCray won't be recruiting for Georgia, so naturally critics now have an easy way to criticize Fox – because, in theory, McCray could sign every player in Atlanta (total fantasy) Fox and Georgia don't sign.
Basketball insiders are going to scream and yell about this to whoever they can (usually that's amongst themselves). But it is an interesting bet to take Rosemond over McCray… a proven recruiting commodity. If McCray didn't want the job then why did he apply? If he wasn't going to get the job why did he apply? Why didn't someone tell him not to? Or was it a matter of leveraging Georgia against LSU to get a raise?
I don't know. I just know that McCray isn't at Georgia even though he officially applied for the job. If he pulls anyone out of Atlanta – particularly someone good – the basketball faithful are going to be angry.
Chad's Notes from the weekend…
- Mike Horton visited Georgia with his mother Saturday and he liked it a lot. This is his first visit to Athens since being offered by the Dawgs. A decision for Horton is likely this summer. He plans to get back to UGA this summer and he will visit a few other schools as well. The Dawgs are in a good place with the three-star OL out of Atlanta Lakeside right now.
- Bobo and Rocker were in Albany last week to watch five-star Trenton Thompson practice. It is still Georgia, then everyone else for Thompson. He talks to numerous UGA coaches on a regular basis and unless something big happens, the in-state Bulldogs will be very tough to beat.
- I continue to hear good things about UGA and Rashad Roundtree. The Scout 100 safety out of Augusta is still looking at his options, but Georgia is in good shape. Expect Roundtree to be back in Athens this summer and to give Georgia one of his official visits. He is a top target for the Dawgs and he, and those around him know it.
- Georgia is offering prospects earlier and earlier. Keep an eye on 2016 four-star defensive tackle David Marshall from Thomaston Upson Lee. Lilly was down to check on him last week and Rocker is expected there Monday. He really wants an offer from the Dawgs.
- FSU commit Cole Minshew is one we continue to monitor. He is still committed to the Noles, but this one definitely isn't over. He plans to camp at FSU and Georgia this summer, then make a final decision. Auburn is another school in the mix, but it is in third right now.
- Another committed prospect that Georgia is in good shape with is Jonathan Ledbetter. The four-star defensive lineman remains committed to Alabama, but I continue to hear UGA is actually his top school. I have confirmed he has talked to a few other recruits about Georgia - Does it mean he ends up there, no, but I still like Georgia's chances right now.