Potential Candidates to Replace Joe Rudolph as Virginia Tech's OL Coach

Potential Candidates to Replace Joe Rudolph as Virginia Tech's OL Coach
Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
Tim Thomas

Tim Thomas | @TimThomasTLP

TLP: Editor
Feb 27, 2023

Virginia Tech seemed poised to have 100% staff continuity as Brent Pry hoped for following the season. That has changed quickly recently first with QBs coach Brad Glenn leaving to become the Cincinnati OC, and now with OL coach Joe Rudolph leaving to join the Notre Dame staff.

Rudolph's departure leaves a big opening on Tech's and costs the Hokies one of their best recruiters in addition to losing one of the most respected offensive line coaches in America. Tech also has the run game coordinator title available to offer which certainly could help attract some coaches as well.

So who might the Hokies turn to as a Rudolph replacement? Here's a look at some potential candidates to watch.

UCF OL Coach Herb Hand

Just about every offensive line coach list you'll see will have Herb Hand on it and understandably so for multiple reasons.

First is the fact that Hand has worked with Brent Pry before having been at Vanderbilt for all three seasons (2011-13) they were there followed by the first 2 years of Pry and James Franklin (2014-15) being at Penn State. Tyler Bowen was also a grad assistant at Penn State in 2014 before becoming the Fordham OL coach in 2015 so there should be tons of familiarity with the two most important decision makers.

Hand has built up a strong reputation over the last decade and while it may not be the same as Rudolph's, it's not too far off of it. Hand also helped UCF have a strong offensive line this past season with his latest quality unit helping the Knights rank 9th in the country in rushing yards per game while averaging 5.2 yards per carry.

He's also a good recruiter who has done great work across the country and in plenty of places where Tech will want to be recruiting heavily albeit some of those being more on the edge of the footprint.

Now it's important to note that with UCF going into the Big 12, this should be viewed as pursuing a Power 5 assistant and not a G5 one. He also seems to have a very good relationship with Gus Malzahn that could make him want to stay regardless of external interest.

However, the connections with Pry and Bowen definitely open a clear door here while Hand also have plenty of experience across the country that should help him be a good fit as well.

Kent State Co-OC/OL Coach Matt Limegrover

James Franklin has only had three OL coaches during his tenure as a head coach with the second being Matt Limegrover who was at PSU from 2016-19 before not being retained after offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne became the head coach at Old Dominion.

Once again, there's overlap here with Pry and Tyler Bowen also being on the PSU staff at that point during the 2018-19 seasons of Limegrover's tenure. Philosophy differences seem like a possible reason why Limegrover wasn't retained given the OC change following 2019 with Limegrover spending a year as a Michigan as an analyst in 2020, then the past 2 seasons as the Arkansas State OL coach before taking his current job with Kent State's new staff.

Limegrover would not be a flashy hire, but he's a more than capable and quality offensive line coach who brings a decade of Power 5 experience helping put together some strong offensive line to go with great PSU RBs like Saquon Barkley.

His experience may not point to having loads of footprint recruiting ties, but he did have plenty of recruiting success in VT's footprint while at Penn State including top 125 overall recruits like Rasheed Walker from MD, Nana Asiedu from Northern VA, and more.

Limegrover wouldn't be a splashy hire to say the least given his current employer, but he would fit well and has had a lot of success that makes it a little surprising in some ways that he is in the MAC and not a bigger job currently.

Illinois OL Coach Bart Miller

There's no current staff ties to Illinois OL Coach Bart Miller, but he appears to be a rising name in the business after helping assemble an impressive rushing attack with a very good OL to go with star RB Chase Brown this past season.

His offensive line was a semifinalist for the Joe Moore Award for the best offensive line in the country, a list that only included several schools including 2022 award winner Michigan. He also has the power football Wisconsin roots having been a GA there in 2011 and OL coach in 2012 while also spending time as the Minnesota OL coach in 2016 before getting his third P5 job with Illinois in 2021.

He's a younger coach showing plenty of promise who has seemed to get better since his early Power 5 chances and now is an ascendant name in the business.

He also has been the offensive run game coordinator in 2020 at Wyoming which could be important because he has thag experience, and because that title could be used as an extra incentive to try to bring him to Blacksburg. Tech also has plenty of money to spend as well to land a splashy rising name from another Power 5 program.

He's been all over the country, but his background doesn't suggest having much in terms of recruiting ties in VT's footprint which is a concern. However, you can downplay that some given that he's a younger coach who's only been in the business for just over a decade.

Tyler Bowen's first offensive staff was full of guys who he hadn't worked with previously and if he follows that approach again, Miller would make a lot of sense.

Former Ohio State OL Coach Greg Studrawa

Greg Studrawa's tenure at Ohio State may not have ended the best, but there's no doubt that Studrawa has a strong reputation as a big time OL coach from his time at Ohio State (2016-21), LSU (2007-13), and Maryland (2014-15).

As you might expect, one of the biggest pluses witb Studrawa is the fact that he's been a big time recruiter as his previous stops as his 247 Sports' profile shows. Given what Tech is losing with Rudolph, Studrawa could really help close that gap while he should also have some solid regional ties both because he recruited nationally at Ohio State and was at Maryland prior to that.

His coaching acumen is big time as you would expect as he coached a pair of Rimington Trophy award winners with four different players earning First Team All-American honors for him at Ohio State. That's the type of reputation that few in the business have with Tech's outgoing OL coach being among that group.

He also has some offensive coordinator experience from his time at LSU and could easily slide into a run game coordinator role.

Now Studrawa would likely take a big salary, but Tech was paying Rudolph at least $750k per year so Tech definitely should have the money to spend and make a splash here.

Who knows if Tech will actually pursue Greg Studrawa or if Studrawa wants back in after a year put, but he's someone Tech should at least consider given his reputation.

Cincinnati OL Coach Nic Cardwell

Similar to Bart Miller, Nic Cardwell is another coach who doesn't have a direct connection to the current staff, but is a rising name who the Hokies could make a big swing for.

Cardwell has largest been an App State/Scott Satterfield guy during his career having played and coached App State with his only stops away from App State being at a lower level early in his career at with Satterfield in varying roles at Louisville.

Over the past three seasons, Cardwell has emerged as a quality offensive line coach starting at App who had back-to-back years with top 35 rushing offenses nationally in 2020 and 2021 including 6th in 2020. Louisville had lots of success on the ground in 2022 ranking 23rd in rushing offense.

His 2021 App State OL earned a Joe Moore Award semifinalist spot while he had a pair of All-ACC including former Hokie Bryan Hudson this past season at Louisville.

Now there's a fair concern to have about Cardwell having no experience outside the Satterfield while he just arrived at Cincinnati and may be content even with the OC change that has already happened. However, Tech has plenty of money available and his roots are in the Mid-Atlantic where he can be valuable recruiting the Carolinas.

Jacksonville Jaguars Assistsnt OL Coach Todd Washington

This may be one of the riskier options given his lack of experience coaching within the constraints and challenges of FBS, but VT alum and Jacksonville Jaguars assistant OL coach Todd Washington is worth mentioning.

Washington was a big part of some quality offensive lines during Virginia Tech's rise in the mid-90s before his NFL career that lasted from 1998-2005. His time at Tech would have also overlapped with Brent Pry's time as a GA, and he was teammates with DL coach JC Price.

Washington has loads of NFL experience having been with the Baltimore Ravens from 2011-16, the New York Jets from 2019-20, and the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2021-present. He also worked with Tyler Bowen when Bowen was the Jagurs' TEs coach during the 2021 season so there should be a solid past relationship there.

The big concern likely comes on the recruiting front given that his only time in the college game at all was at San Diego from 2007-09, a program in the Pioneer League of FCS which is a non-scholarship FCS conference. However, it helps that he is an alum selling his Alma mater on the trail and that he's a respected VA native who could likely boost in-state recruiting given his name recognition.

Todd Washington would be an interesting candidate to watch with plenty of VT alums already touting his name on social media including Dwight Vick with Washington's tweets seeming to indicate that he would definitely be interested if Tech decides to pursue him.

Connecticut OL Coach/Run Game Coordinator Gordon Sammis

This is a new name on the board, but Gordon Sammis is a young up-and-comer who is a name linked to this job within the industry per a source. To be clear, Sammis isn't a frontrunner or a serious candidate, but at least a name on the radar currently for this job.

Sammis just made the jump to FBS this past season at UCONN, but helped the Huskies have their best season in a long time. Prior to that, he had numerous successful FCS stints including at William & Mary playing a big role in building up a strong role for their high-powered offensive attack.

On the recruiting front, Sammis is UCONN's recruiter for the DMV and should be able to fit right in with the footprint recruiting focus that Brent Pry has. He also should have plenty of recruiting ties that go beyond his time at UCONN to his previous stints coaching in the Commonwealth of VA at William & Mary and VMI.

He also is a UVA alum who started his coaching career as a grad assistant there which may be considered as a negative to some Hokie fans but shows the loads of in-state ties he has.

Keep an eye on Sammis as a potential rising name candidate for this job.