Jeremy Pruitt doesn’t wear any of his three national championship rings.
He doesn’t take them off every night, plopping them into a catch-all or place them on his dresser.
“I don’t wear rings, I put them in my safe deposit box and don’t ever touch them,” Georgia’s new defensive coordinator said.
He likes it that way.
He likes being reminded of his high school coaching roots, referring to them often in his introductory news conference alongside Georgia coach Mark Richt on Wednesday.
The former Florida Sate defensive coordinator spent the early 2000s coaching high school football at Fort Payne (Ala.) and Plainview (Ala.). But it was his day job he remembers most — he was a PE teacher at an elementary school, instructing students as young as kindergartners and as old as third graders.
“When you see kids and you don’t know where they laid their head at night, when they got their last meal, you realize there’s a lot more important things than football, and I know that probably sounds crazy,” Pruitt said as Richt jumped in at the end of his thought.
“Some Georgia fans hate to hear that, but most of them got a grip on life,” Richt cracked.
Pruitt seems to fit the mold that Richt likes: Cares about players on and off the field, knows the importance of academics, revered by Mike Bobo, Will Friend and Bryan McClendon.
But he has a few things no one on Richt’s staff has: Three national championship rings.
“His résumé really speaks for itself,” Richt said. “But just as good or better of a person.”
Three seasons at the Alabama high school powerhouse Hoover, two rings.
Three seasons as a defensive backs coach with the Crimson Tide, two rings.
One season as defensive coordinator at Florida State, one ring.
And the deal is made better for Richt and company when he says things like this: “I think it’s important that the guys get to know me, know what I’m about, know that I’m going to be there for them not only in the football part but any other time. I think that goes back to getting into education.”
As he was formally introduced, Pruitt proclaimed he had fulfilled a goal he set out nearly 11 years ago. It was a 2003 summer camp and Pruitt brought two prospects from Fort Wayne to participate. Richt and other staff members entertained the coaches and campers with pizza and shop talk after the day was over.
Pruitt never forget that interaction.
“When I walked out of that room 30 minutes later, I was wowed,” Pruitt said Wednesday. “My father looked at me and said, ‘That’s what college football’s all about.’ I said right then and there, If I ever had an opportunity to work for him that I wanted to be a part of this staff.”
Anti-Todd Grantham chants have turned into pro-Pruitt cheers in just a matter of days as he brings in a fresh championship pedigree missing at Georgia.
“I’m not looking in the rearview mirror,” Pruitt said. “I’m looking straight ahead. Hopefully, there will be more (rings) to get.”