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Virginia Tech football: Hokies hire Jon Tenuta to defensive staff

Tenuta is a veteran defensive coordinator who brings plenty of experience to Justin Hamilton’s defensive staff.

Boston College v North Carolina State Photo by Peyton Williams/NCSU/Getty Images

The Virginia Tech Hokies made a big move on their coaching staff, adding veteran defensive coach Jon Tenuta as a senior defensive analyst.

This is an outstanding move.

First, if the name sounds familiar, it’s because Tenuta’s son, Luke, was Virginia Tech’s starting right tackle in 2020.

Most college football fans will remember Tenuta from his time as defensive coordinator at his alma mater; the University of Virginia. Tenuta spent three seasons from 2013-15 as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach with the Cavaliers.

Tenuta’s experience goes far beyond his time in Charlottesville, though.

The 63-year-old has spent time at Oklahoma, Ohio State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, N.C. State, among others. He spent the past seasons at Cincinnati under head coach Luke Fickell and defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman. Anyone who follows the game closely understands how good Cincinnati is on defense.

Tenuta was a defensive backs coach for the Bearcats for three seasons and spent the 2020 season as a senior defensive analyst — the same role he will hold in Blacksburg.

Tenuta knows Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente from his one season DBs coach at Oklahoma when Fuente was a quarterback there.

Fuente released a statement on the hiring of Tenuta:

We’re thrilled to bring Jon’s wisdom, experience and football background into our program. Jon could help any program in America, but I’m exceedingly grateful that he’s joining us at Virginia Tech. Jon will be a valuable resource for all of us at Virginia Tech and I’m glad he’s here. I know Jon is eager to help our team while also having a front-row seat watching his son, Luke, continue to grow and develop as a young man and a player.

Tenuta also released a statement, thanking Fuente and Virginia Tech.

I appreciate Coach Fuente extending this role to me. Football has been very good to me and my family over the years, so the chance to join the program where my son is playing was really an opportunity I couldn’t pass up at this stage of my career. I’ve missed a lot of games and moments to see all of my three sons compete in person over the years, so from a personal and a professional standpoint coming to Virginia Tech was an offer I couldn’t refuse. I look forward to getting to work with Coach Fuente, his staff and the Hokies.

Tenuta adds a veteran voice to what is a young defensive coaching staff. Justin Hamilton is entering his second season as defensive coordinator, while Ryan Smith is entering second season as Virginia Tech’s cornerbacks coach. Jack Tyler will be in his first season as linebackers coach.

Not only can Tenuta be a veteran assistant for Hamilton, but he also gets an up-close view of his son, who certainly has a future in the NFL.

Before you read this and think this is another Tracy Claeys. Stop. It’s not.

Claeys came here at the request of Jerry Kill before he left last offseason and really did nothing for the Hokies. He needed to go and Fuente realized as much and made that happen.

Tenuta is thrilled to be here and the fact he’s still been around the game at a high-level program recently is good for the Hokies. He can bring fresh ideas to the table.

For those concerned with some of the inexperience on the defensive staff, Tenuta is here to assuage some of those concerns.

This was a really smart hire by Fuente and the Hokies.