Hokies turns to coach with strong in-state recruiting ties – .

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Hokies turns to coach with strong in-state recruiting ties – .


Virginia Tech has hired Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry as the program’s next coach, the school said on Tuesday. Pry, 51, has been with the Nittany Lions for the past eight seasons and worked as a graduate assistant at Virginia Tech in the 1990s under legendary former coach Frank Beamer and defensive coordinator Bud Foster. He will replace Justin Fuente, who was sacked in mid-November with a 43-31 record over six seasons on the job.

“Coach Pry has a winning track record on the football field, as well as a history of developing young men into leaders off the field and in the classroom,” said Whit Babcock, athletic director of Virginia Tech. “He has come up through the coaching ranks and we believe he is the right person to lead Virginia Tech Football and achieve the goals we all aspire to achieve. He and his team will aggressively recruit our region to keep the rookies in the state at home and attract the talent needed to win the championships at Blacksburg. “

This will be Pry’s first head coach job, but he has long been considered one of the best defensive minds in the sport. He will have his work cut out for him at Virginia Tech, who finished the regular season 6-6 and ranked 73rd nationally in total defense after finishing 103rd in total defense last season. In contrast, Penn State finished in the top 40 nationally in total defense during each of Pry’s six seasons as defensive coordinator.

“Working for Coach Beamer and Coach Foster as a graduate assistant in the 1990s, I had the privilege of being a part of this program as the Hokies established themselves as a national powerhouse, consistently proving they could beat anyone in the country, ”Pry said. . “Even after leaving Blacksburg, I still continued to appreciate Virginia Tech, its great players, its championship teams and its wonderful traditions from afar. The resources, facilities, varsity support from athletics and the phenomenal fan support that Virginia Tech appreciates made this a very desirable situation. But just as important, the opportunity to raise our children in a community like Blacksburg also has great appeal. “

Pry has worked under Penn State coach James Franklin for the past 11 seasons in total after spending 14 seasons at the FCS and Group of Five levels in various assistant coaching roles. He was an integral part of Vanderbilt’s nine consecutive seasons in 2012 and 2013 under Franklin.

The Altoona, Pa. Native played in Buffalo before starting his coaching career there as a student assistant. After a stint on the staff of Division II East Stroudsburg, he worked from 1995 to 1997 as a graduate assistant under Beamer with the Hokies. The program had two 10-game seasons in that span and rose to 27-9 overall.

Here are the top takeaways about hiring Pry from Virginia Tech:

Offensive personnel will be crucial

Pry’s track record suggests he should be able to improve on a defense that has shrunk significantly in recent seasons from the greatness it enjoyed under Foster and Beamer. But Virginia Tech needs a full reboot on both sides of the ball, not just defense, in order to escape a rut of mediocrity that has only seen it go 25-24 in the past four seasons.

The Hokies are 109th in passing offense this season after placing 89th in passing offense last season. The offense also needs a makeover, which highlights the hiring of offensive personnel from Pry. He’s unlikely to raid Penn State staff after more than a decade under Franklin, so where will Pry turn to fill his staff? This is perhaps the most important question of the early days of his tenure.

Recruitment Links in Virginia

Penn State has always recruited well in Virginia under Franklin, and Pry played a major role in that success. He was, for example, the lead scout for five-star linebacker Brandon Smith of Mineral, Va., In the 2018 class. In total, he was the lead or back-up scout on seven state Penn State engagements during his tenure. warrant, according to 247Sports.

Established connections and time spent in rural outposts such as Mineral should serve Pry well as he tries to correct some of the Hokies’ recent struggles to retain state talent. Five of the state’s top six prospects in the 2022 class are committed to North Carolina, and two of the state’s top four players in the 2023 class are committed to Penn State. If Virginia Tech is to function to its maximum potential, it must be a destination for the state’s top talent. Pry appears capable of making the Hokies competitive in this regard, and Babcock made it clear the importance of regional recruiting in Tuesday’s announcement.

Ramifications for Penn State

Just a week after receiving a 10-year, $ 75 million extension, Franklin must make a critical decision on how to replace Pry. The two have been together for over a decade, with Pry serving as either the Defensive Co-Coordinator or the Defensive Coordinator the entire time. How the Nittany Lions replace him will have a major impact on the trajectory of the program.

The offensive coordinator position has been a revolving door at Penn State under Franklin, while the defensive coordinator position has been stable in comparison. This could make internal promotion an attractive option, especially if there is a worthy candidate for the Penn State squad considering moving to Virginia Tech with Pry.

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