ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Jeremy Pruitt said Wednesday he didn't have to think twice about leaving Florida State after he found out Georgia coach Mark Richt was looking for a new defensive coordinator.
Pruitt said he first met Richt 11 years ago when as a high school coach in Fort Payne, Ala., he brought recruits to Georgia. Pruitt, who coached under his father, Dale Pruitt, at Fort Payne, said he was impressed by the 2003 meeting with Richt.
"It was the first time I ever met him and when I walked out of that room 30 minutes later I was wowed," Jeremy Pruitt said. "My father looked at me and said 'That's what college football is all about.' I said right then and there if I ever had an opportunity to work for him, I wanted to be a part of his staff."
The opportunity came Sunday, when defensive coordinator Todd Grantham left Georgia for a similar position at Louisville. Only two days later, Richt on Tuesday hired Pruitt as Grantham's successor.
In Pruitt's only season as Florida State's defensive coordinator, the Seminoles led the nation in scoring defense and won the 2013 national championship. He was a finalist for the Broyles Award given to the nation's top assistant coach.
Richt said he was foggy about the details of the 2003 meeting with Pruitt at a summer camp.
"We had the practice in the stadium and afterward had pizza and I wish I could say I remember that moment, but I'm glad the moment happened, I can tell you that," Richt said.
Richt introduced Pruitt at a team meeting for defensive players on Tuesday afternoon. Richt said players applauded when Pruitt entered the room.
"He told the players 'We're going to be simple enough so you guys can turn it loose,'" Richt said.
Richt said players "broke out in applause again" after Pruitt spoke.
"I've never seen that happen in 30-something years of coaching," Richt said.
Pruitt takes over a Georgia defense that struggled last season. The Bulldogs 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.