Brent Pry has most his Virginia Tech staff in place with 7 out of 10 assistants publicly announced and offensive coordinator Tyler Bowen expected to join upon the completion of the Jacksonville Jaguars' season. With Wisconsin's Joe Rudolph also heavily linked with the OL coach and run game coordinator roles, Tech seems to only need a WRs coach at this point to fill out their primary assistant coaching staff.
With all of that just about in place, the focus will shift to filling out the staffing of the program including those in quality control and other non-primary assistant coaching roles.
While these hires may not seem important in the short term, this is where many of the best programs can develop young coaches who can step into larger roles when top assistants leave for bigger or different opportunities. We've seen Alabama do that as the coaching rehab school while Clemson promoted one of their off-the-field guys in Wes Goodwin to be their next defensive coordinator rather than go outside the program.
Tech has done the same over the years including with Justin Hamilton most prominently in recent years.
So who are some coaches that Virginia Tech should target? Here's three coaches that Virginia Tech should reach out to.
Texas A&M-Commerce DC Xavier Adibi
Xavier Adibi has only been coaching for a few years, but he's already looking like a rising star in the business that Brent Pry would be wise to try to bring in as a top defensive analyst/quality control coach who could be promoted into an on-field role if Tech were to see an opening with a coach in their front 7.
Adibi has proven himself during his three seasons at Texas A&M Commerce with his defense ranking third this past season in all of Division II in total defense. His defenses have raised their game and are a big reason why Commerce has had their success in recent years.
Adibi also has major program experience as an analyst at Arkansas while he also coached briefly at JUCO powerhouse Garden City prior to Arkansas which could open some valuable doors on the JUCO recruiting front for Tech.
Now the big question is whether Adibi would be interested? The fact is that Adibi left his role in 2018 at Arkansas as an analyst to become the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M-Commerce and has had great success being named a finalist for the FootballScoop Division II Coordinator of the Year. He may be content at A&M-Commerce with them jumping up to FCS soon or even making a jump to a position coach or coordinator role at a Group of 5 or FCS program with numerous schools who have openings likely to at least consider someone like Adibi.
Additionally, Adibi could have just paid his dues as an SEC analyst and started climbing the ladder sooner, would he want to jump back to an analyst role albeit probably a significantly more prominent role?
However, there's something to be said about coming home to the place that launched your football career and the Hokies could potentially pay Adibi like you would pay a top analyst. The odds are likely low of getting Adibi giving the rising success he's having as a defensive coordinator currently, but Brent Pry should at least reach out and see.
Western Illinois WRs Coach/Pass Game Coordinator Dyrell Roberts
While Dyrell Roberts probably won't be the WRs coach (though if Tech can land their initial targets, he might be worth a call), Roberts would be worth consideration for a top offensive off-the-field role.
The former standout Virginia Tech WR has paid his dues over the past decade after starting his career coaching at Smithfield HS in the 757 before spending time at Earlham College and Saint Joseph's College.
After spending the 2018 season at Norfolk State, Roberts made the jump to the Midwest at Western Illinois and though they've only won 4 games over the past three seasons, Roberts is not the coach to blame. Western Illinois' passing attack has been very good as the Leathernecks ranked 10th in FCS in passing yards per game while senior WR Dennis Houston was 1 of only 16 receivers to break the 1,000 receiving yard mark at the FCS level this fall and three WRs in the top 135 in receiving yards.
He also did well at Norfolk State where he was the WRs coach and special teams coordinator for a season with NSU leading FCS in yards per punt return during his time there. He also has loads of 757 ties as a native of the region and someone who has coached at the high school and collegiate levels there which could make him very beneficial in helping to rebuild ties in that crucial in-state region.
Roberts would be a smart call as someone who has paid his dues and shown that he can coach both offense and special teams while managing multiple responsibilities. Being able to bring him in as an off-the-field guy for a couple years to develop him further and groom him for an opening on the offensive staff should one open makes a lot of sense.
Combine that with the fact that Western Illinois is making a head coaching change and Tech would be wise to pursue Roberts and bring him back to Blacksburg.
Chowan DC Colin Neely
Colin Neely is the lone non-Hokie among this trio of coaches, but Neely is already showing plenty of signs of being a rising star who Virginia Tech should seek to get on their staff in an analyst/quality control role.
Neely may have graduated from Michigan State only in 2012 after starting 27 games during his time there, but he's already been a defensive coordinator for six seasons with four years at Edinboro followed by two years at Chowan. During his time at Edinboro, his defenses saw some significant improvement while proving to be playmaking machines with strong outputs in terms of tackles for loss, sacks, and turnovers.
He's continued to build on that at Chowan as his defense ranked 21st in total defense while being second at the DII level in sacks per game and fifth in total tackles for loss per game. The fact is that Neely has built defenses that are known for making plays especially in the trenches as backed by his sack and TFL averages especially this year with Chowan.
There could be a potential connection albeit not direct that could also make Neely appealing to Brent Pry given that Neely started his coaching career at East Stroudsberg as the defensive line coach.
Neely also has ties to the region that Virginia Tech will be recruiting having spent time in PA at East Stroudsberg and Edinboro plus time in NC at Chowan. While Neely won't be out on the road for Tech, having someone who adds even more familiarity and likely with schools that don't produce big time recruits as often but enough to matter could give Tech an extra inside track.
Neely has plenty of things pointing to him being a rising name in the business and he'd be someone that Brent Pry should consider for an off-the-field role on this staff to develop and groom him into a potential on-field coach down the road given how position coach turnover is inevitable in major CFB.