ATHENS - It was less than a decade ago that Rush Propst was guiding a nationally prominent high school football program, and Jeremy Pruitt and Kevin Sherrer were two of his assistant coaches. The Hoover High School (Ala) Buccaneers were followed every day by an MTV crew, and "Two-A-Days" remains well-known around football circles.
Propst's career was detoured by scandal, then restarted in south Georgia. And now his two former assistants are joining him in the state, but a level up: A week after Pruitt was hired as Georgia's defensive coordinator, Sherrer has been hired as a defensive assistant.
"I'm awful proud of both of them, number one. And number two, obviously the reason Kevin has been hired is he's a damn good football coach," Propst said on Wednesday evening. "And the continuity of scheme and Mark (Richt's) just making some really, really good moves. Personally I think Georgia people should be excited about what's going to transpire defensively the next few years. The ability to recruit, the ability to coach, the ability to rally, it's just second-to-none."
Sherrer spent the past year as the defensive coordinator at South Alabama. Prior to that he was at Alabama in a player development role, in yet another role in which he followed Pruitt, his former Crimson Tide teammate.
Propst hired Pruitt as a position coach in 2004, then promoted him a year later to defensive coordinator. Sherrer was hired that year to replace Pruitt, and they worked together for two years, until Pruitt left for Alabama. Sherrer was then promoted again into Pruitt's spot as defensive coordinator, and then was later also hired by Alabama.
"The thing that Georgia has to do, is their defense has to play with some personality. And Jeremy brings that," Propst said. "Sherrer knows what Jeremy wants done. There's no learning curve, there's continuity in scheme. He doesn't have to look over his shoulder. It's just a sounding board."
Georgia is set to return 10 starters on defense, as well as most key reserves. But Propst believes his two former assistants will be able to help the players have a smooth transition to a new staff.
"The thing that those two guys can do is relationships. They know how to coach kids," Propst said. "Everybody will have an open-door policy into Jeremy's office, and Kevin's office. The thing about those two guys - they're completely polar opposite, now. Jeremy coaches different than Kevin does. And that's what makes them so good as a tandem together, they have different personalities. The ability to wear a black hat, a white hat, is a key to a good coaching staff. That's where those two guys know how to adapt, know how to handle kids."
Then there's the recruiting part of it. Having come from the high school ranks is a plus there, according to Propst.
"The thing with Kevin and Jeremy, they're going to walk into high school locker rooms and coaches' offices, and they're gonna know what that high school coach is thinking, because they've been there," Propst said. "To me, that's a critical, critical, critical part of recruiting that has been left out of it for years. Now the people that are building it, shoot, they're way ahead of the game."
Georgia is still looking for two more assistant coaches, which could both be defensive assistants, or could be one assistant coach and a special teams coordinator. Propst said his understanding was Sherrer will coach linebackers, and Pruitt will coach the secondary.
"Mark will hire the best people. He's on a roll, there's no question about it," Propst said.
Pruitt and Sherrer were high school coaches very recently, and Propst thinks that's an advantage, rather than a sign of inexperience. He pointed to Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn (a high school coach in the early 2000s), and Baylor head coach Art Briles, who also jumped from the high school ranks.
In fact, Propst thinks that with the 20-hour rule in college football, which limits teams to 20 hours of practice per week, high school coaches are coming in with more versatility in schemes. That's what Pruitt and Sherrer will bring to Athens, their former coach said.
"A college coach can't go out there all summer and work like we can," Propst said. "It's more NFL-ish now in high school football. I think it's helped people transition to college football."
Hoover won the state 6A championship twice while Sherrer was there, and made the title game two other times. The Buccaneers were 61-12 during Sherrer's time at Hoover.
Propst was forced to resign from Hoover in 2007, after numerous allegations about off-field issues. He was hired at Colquitt County a year later, and took the team to the GHSA Class 5A state championship game in 2010.
"Two-A-Days" followed Hoover around during the 2005 and 2006 seasons, and is still remembered around football circles, including current Georgia players.
"I guess everybody from Hoover trying to coach here," Georgia reserve offensive lineman Xzavier Ward tweeted on Wednesday. "Next will be Propst."and forced 16 turnovers.
Propst laughed at that Wednesday, but added: "You never know."