Georgia assistant coaches bring with them a bevy of experience

At Jeremy Pruitt’s introductory news conference in January, Georgia coach Mark Richt said his new defensive coordinator’s résumé spoke for itself.

Pruitt had a national championship pedigree from coaching at Florida State and Alabama. He won two state titles as a defensive assistant coach at Hoover (Ala.) High School.

He also served in an off-field position while climbing the coaching ladder.

AJ Reyolds/Staff, @ajreynoldsphoto

AJ Reyolds/Staff, @ajreynoldsphoto

Pruitt was director of player development at Alabama from 2007-09 before moving up to defensive backs coach.
Add in outside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer and half of Georgia’s new defensive staff was in support staff positions en route to Georgia.

Sherrer replaced Pruitt as the Crimson Tide player development position before spending last season as defensive coordinator at South Alabama.

Alabama won national titles in 2009, 2011 and 2012 while Pruitt was on staff and Sherrer was there for two of them.
Auburn won in 2010 and reached the BCS title game in 2013 also relying on a growing staff of off-field assistants beyond their nine on-field assistants.

Two of them were hired by new Georgia Southern coach Willie Fritz this offseason.

Running backs coach Dell McGee had the title analyst for Auburn last season after a successful career as head coach at Carver High in Columbus. Tight ends coach Chad Lunsford was director of scouting and director of player personnel at Auburn from 2009-13.

“I think it’s really good to get a lot of valuable experience, especially at the highest level,” Fritz said of the non-coaching jobs, “but the real reason I hired both of them was, No. 1, Dell was a very successful high school coach in the state of Georgia, won a state championship. Chad knows everybody in the state, coached at Georgia Military, had been at Georgia Southern once before. That was really the reason I hired them, their great experience in the state of Georgia.”

Auburn had five off-field assistants move on after last season to college coaching jobs and four more have since been hired as support staffers, according to AL.com, including Bobby Bentley, a longtime head coach at Byrnes (S.C.) High School who is serving as an offensive analyst.

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said he expects the number of such positions under a new NCAA governance structure to be capped with clearly defined roles.

“I think it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” he said.

Alabama in 2013 had 24 non-coaching personnel working just with football, not including graduate assistants, according to the Tuscaloosa News. Auburn had 21, according to AL.com.

Georgia has increased its projected spending on off-field positions of what it listed as “graduate assistants/interns” from $202,600 this year to $249,565 to account for the addition of a third quality control position and a fifth football video manager, but McGarity views UGA more aligned with the rest of the SEC in how they view non-coaching positions.

“Auburn and Alabama are probably the two institutions that treat that a little bit differently,” he said. “We’re really no different than the Floridas, the LSUs, everybody else in the conference other than Alabama and Auburn and what they’ve done is they’ve really mined the high school ranks to make their hires through that pool.”

Georgia’s football support staff includes former receivers coach John Eason as director of player development and former strength coach Dave Van Halanger as director of player welfare.

Former player Bryant Gantt is a program coordinator.

Georgia has an opening for what it’s calling a director of player personnel, replacing what was previously called director of on-campus recruiting, a job that came with a six-figure salary.

Alabama’s last director of player personnel was Kevin Steele, a former Clemson and Alabama defensive coordinator. Nick Saban named him as the Crimson Tide’s inside linebackers coach this winter.

“This population, right now they can’t coach,” McGarity said. “The only time they can be of assistance is during recruiting when they’re on your campus. If the rules are applied the right way, they’re very limited in what they can do. I think it’s all about relationship building and things along those lines and it just depends on what each head coach desires to do in that area.”

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