Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
Virginia Tech announcing Darryl Tapp would be joining the Hokies' coaching staff was guaranteed to be a well-liked moved by fans given the legacy he left in Blacksburg. However, sometimes the fan excitement of a legend coming home covers up a hire that doesn't make a lot of sense.
In Tapp's case, the excitement is more than fitting for the smarts that Justin Fuente and Justin Hamilton showed bringing Tapp back.
First, Tapp may have been in the NFL for a while, but he also has a couple years of college coaching experience under his belt having spent 2018 at Central Michigan and 2019 at Vanderbilt, both in quality control roles. Those quality control roles are great spots for former NFL guys like Tapp to gain experience and develop as a coach without having the position of being the main guy at a position.
Additionally, while Tapp seems likely to focus largely on defensive lineman, it seems like Virginia Tech is going to put a veteran DL coach with him to make sure not all the pressure is on him. That should prove valuable in his continued development as a coach and help him refine teaching the things he's learned playing at Virginia Tech and for multiple NFL teams.
Second, Tapp's NFL experience is undeniable and is valuable in many ways especially on the recruiting trail where that experience will give him instant credibility with any player or coach. That Tapp has over a decade of experience and not just a few years adds even more validity.
Additionally, all that time in the NFL means that Tapp has been coached by numerous people and given how he jumped immediately into coaching, he likely was intentional in trying to learn what made those coaches effective. That vastness of coaches he's been coached by should not only give him plenty of mentors he can reach out to, but also a deep knowledge of the numerous ways coaches can be effective with various players and personalities.
Third, Tapp has the perfect combination of NFL experience and youth that gives him lots of upside to be a great recruiter. We've seen well-known NFL players be able to have early success on the recruiting trail including Dre Bly last year and Tapp appears poised to follow that model.
That already seems to be paying off with new VT commit Justin Beadles mentioning Tapp in his comments on why he chose the Hokies in part because the VT Hall of Famer appears "ready to work" to develop the next Darryl Tapps. Not only being able to have someone with Tapp's NFL experience on staff, but also having someone like Tapp who is clearly passionate about coaching will make a difference for Tech on the recruiting trail.
Fourth, Darryl Tapp not only knows the defensive culture at Virginia Tech, but he also deeply understands it as someone who was always praised for embracing that culture. He also knows Justin Hamilton quite well having played alongside Hamilton throughout his career at Virginia Tech.
Those two things should make him a more effective recruiter than most would be immediately because while some coaches may know about the culture, Tapp understands what it means and what the Lunch Pail defense really stands for more than just about anyone. Tapp's belief in Hamilton being the right guy to be Tech's next defensive coordinator will also be something that he can sell just as well as anyone given his time spent going to battle with Hamilton.
So yeah, not every hire of a former star player to be a position coach is the best decision but in this case, hiring Darryl Tapp was a smart addition for Virginia Tech with little risk and lots of upside.