Virginia Tech's defensive backfield is in a state of flux. DBU as we've known it is changing- Torrian Gray's moved on to Florida. As many of you pointed out, we've been producing defensive backs before that. So, who's going to be the new face of the Virginia Tech secondary, and potentially our primary recruiter there and elsewhere? Here's a few of the names that we're hearing in the wind. Just a note: at present Bud Foster is apparently in Costa Rica, so I wouldn't expect the hiring news to come out until he returns. But I'd imagine that they'd have this position coach in place before the next junior day at the end of the month, hopefully much before.
The Professional I: Anthony Midget
Anthony Midget is a Floridian who played for the Hokies for four years, including participation in the National Championship loss to Florida State. After graduation, he was drafted in the 5th round to the NFL, but a short playing career ensued. He then became an assistant coach at Lake Worth High School back in Florida, was a GA here in Blacksburg, and followed it with the Georgia State defensive backs coaching job, then their defensive coordinator job for a year. He then moved on to Penn State as a safeties coach. When Bill O'Brien took the Texans' job, Midget went with him, where he now the assistant in the secondary.
Midget would bring NFL experience and knowledge to the board, along with some college knowledge as well. In all, he'd probably be the most qualified candidate in terms of technique and breadth of experience. I'm not sure he'd want to come back down to the college level. Maybe the call of his alma mater would be enough to have him become a full-time secondary coach for the Hokies. It'd be really interesting to see how well he recruited, but hopefully with professional experience and with stints up and down the east coast, he'd be able to make things work.
The Professional II: Ike Charlton
Ike was a more celebrated member of the old Virginia Tech secondary (first team all American), drafted in the second round by Seattle. Unfortunately it didn't work out well for him, either, as he bounced around the league to Jacksonville, the Giants, the Raiders, and the Patriots. From there he went to Canada for a stint with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and then back to the US for a year with the Lions. That'd be enough to drive anyone back to Canada, and he played three more years for the Blue Bombers and one with the Montreal Alouettes. He's currently the defensive backs coach for the Ottawa Redblacks. Again, that's professional experience (though more with playing than with coaching) and a lower amount of high school and college knowledge, but he's a professional coach that has a history with Bud Foster and the school. Worse yet is that his potential recruiting would be a complete abstraction. The step down or to the side would be less for him than it would for Midget.
The Teacher: Loren Johnson
Johnson is the head coach now at Highland Springs, a high school in Henrico County by Richmond. They just won the state title for 5A high school football in Virginia. He's a bit older than the previous two candidates, ending his playing time at the 1998 season. Johnson was also in Northern Virginia- he coached Ryan Williams at Stonewall Jackson High in Manassass. He's apparently a great teacher and an all-around good guy. It'd be good to have someone that knows the program and has a lot of high school connections in the 703 as well as the 804. But he doesn't offer the wealth of experience at another level that either Charlton or Midget provide. This position as secondary coach for the Hokies would be an upgrade in both pay and prestige from a major high school coaching job.
The other problem with these three is that, well, we're approaching times which those not following the school since after the National Championship season won't have heard of either of these two former players. Neither went on to notability in the pros to help enhance their position now. Again, we're getting into a close to full generational gap between that championship and the players you're looking to get. Michael Vick's glory years in the NFL are going to fade here shortly. These ‘old ghosts' as I've heard them called, while definitely skilled, might not bring the current college and recruiting experience that you're looking for. It's a bit of a gamble in that regard, but they do come with familiarity to the system and to the staff and program. There are logical reasons for hiring all three of them.
But, for the sake of argument, here are three outside-the-program hires that could be made.
The Blue Devil: Derek Jones
Jones is the assistant special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach for Duke University. He's been there since 2008, and coached at Memphis, Tulsa. Middle Tennessee State, and Ole Miss- where he was a GA for, surprise, David Cutcliffe. The Duke Secondary has done fairly well the past few years, and he had 10 commitments last year, including safety Dylan Singleton, a composite 4-star safety from Georgia. I'm all for hurting your competition by hiring away coaching talent from them, but it might be hard to lever him away from Cutcliffe. His salary is not public as Duke is a private institution, but you could always offer him a raise if he'd disclose that number.
The Hoo: Chip West
This'll be a bit more controversial, but West has had some success getting guys and getting guys into the pros. Ras-I Dowling, Chase Minnifield, and Chris Cook were all relatively successful college players and both Cook and Dowling were drafted. In his recruiting successes he can include Quin Blanding and Andrew Brown, Eli Harold, Taquan Mizzell, Demetrious Nicholson, Kwontie Moore, Jamil Kamara, Jahvoni Simmons, Clifton Richardson, and Tim Harris- yep, he's their premier 757 recruiter. He formerly coached at ODU and JMU. A Virginia lifer that graduated from Kecoughtan High. Considering the recruiting connections he has, he'd be an interesting add considering he'd be selling VT rather than UVA.
The Monarch: Kermit Buggs
If you're aiming for lower hanging fruit, Buggs has been with the Monarchs for 2 years and is another pure 757 guy. Another graduate of Kecoughtan High, Buggs is a former Norfolk State grad. He's got nine seasons at Penn State as well, giving him higher level coaching experience. He's a former high school coach, a state champion at the A level from Surry County. Admittedly, even his Penn State recruiting record isn't that strong, but he's another ‘in the know' 757 guy that'd now be selling a more palatable product to that crowd- a bigger university with a name, rather than a small school in their backyard or a big school far away. But there has to be a reason as to the fact that he's been stuck down at this level rather than being brought away from ODU after a decent Penn State career.
It'll be interesting to see which way the pendulum swings. Personally, I have no dog in the hunt- I want us to go out and get the best recruiter we can. If we have to move Galen Scott to defensive backs coach and put in someone else on either side of the ball, I'd be fine with that option as well. But we need to go get quality. I heard at the NoVa Hokie Club- via Coach Wiggins- that there are no shortage of candidates- merely a shortage of quiet phone time for calls to actually get through. He even had two calls on the way up, to say nothing of what Coach Fuente and Coach Foster were going through once Gray's vacancy was announced. Let's see what the future holds. For all we know, it'll be someone completely off the board. Apparently that's very much in the cards. Let's take this coaching slot and use it as an opportunity.