ATHENS — Jeremy Pruitt was recruiting to the bitter the end.
Georgia’s controversial defensive coordinator was in Elbert County with the mother of five-star recruit Mecole Hardman when the news broke that Bulldogs’ head coach Mark Richt had been fired.
“I’m here in Elbert County. I was in church with Mecole’s (mom),” Pruitt said around 1 p.m. Sunday. “I’m just recruiting. Not sure what to tell you.”
Pruitt said he had bad cell service and the connection broken just when he was asked if the news caught him by surprise or he knew it was coming. He was unable to be reached afterward.
Georgia’s assistant coaches have been asked by UGA to remain with the program and continue coaching and recruiting through the bowl game. The Bulldogs are off for the next two weeks before resuming bowl practices.
Defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, said he planned on staying with the team through the bowl.
“I’m gonna do my job,” Rocker said. “It’s called finish the drill.”
Pruitt is a central figure in the changes that are being made. His inability to get along with other members of the coaching staff had caused strained and dissension within the coaching staff. According to one source, several of Richt’s assistants threatened to leave if Pruitt was allowed to return.
However, Pruitt’s defense was the only thing that worked well for the Bulldogs the second half of this season. Georgia finished third in the SEC and eighth nationally in total defense, giving up just 298 yards per game. The Bulldogs had Georgia Tech shut out on Saturday until a late touchdown helped by a bogus personal foul call helped the Yellow Jackets score with three minutes left in the game.
This is only Pruitt’s second season in Athens as Georgia’s defensive coordinator. A former Alabama player and assistant, he succeeded Todd Grantham on January of 2014 after Grantham left the Bulldogs for Louisiville. Pruitt had coordinated Florida State’s defense when the Seminoles won the national championship in 2013.
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