Late last month, Virginia Tech co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach Galen Scott resigned after news broke about his involvement in an extramarital affair. In the aftermath, Virginia Tech made Justin Hamilton; Director of Player Development - Defense, the interim safeties coach, giving the Hokies a full staff to send on the road. However, it's extremely unlikely that Hamilton is hired to the position full-time.
While the timetable for a replacement hiring is unknown, there are a few things that Virginia Tech will likely look for in Scott's replacement.
1. A New Safeties Coach
Virginia Tech will likely look to keep the same staff makeup with the Hokies likely to add a safeties coach instead of making a different hire. Brian Mitchell's experience has been largely limited to coaching cornerbacks and while he is more than capable to be a defensive backs coach, VT is more likely to hire a safeties coach.
If VT goes with a safeties coach as expected, the Hokies will also likely look for someone who will fit well in the defensive back room with Brian Mitchell. A couple of safeties coaches that VT may consider are Wake Forest's Lyle Hemphill and Toledo's Ross Watson; both of whom are young, rising coaches.
No matter what way VT goes, Bud Foster will likely have an almost equal stake in this hire given the fact that this will likely be a defensive hire. It also wouldn't be surprising if the Hokies hired an assistant who fit well with Bud Foster's defensive philosophy that emphasizes a lot of man coverage.
2. Florida/Southeastern Recruiting Connections
Under Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech has continued to make Florida one of their top priorities on the recruiting trail. For the Hokies, Charley Wiles and Galen Scott were the two coaches who primarily split the recruiting territory in Florida. With Scott gone, the Hokies will likely assign a second assistant to Florida with the most likely answer coming from a new hire.
One guy who would fit the bill well is South Florida's DBs coach Blue Adams. Adams is a Miami native who had a short NFL career and has gained experience at the power 5 level and in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins, both things that would likely be valuable on the recruiting trail in Florida in addition to building relationships with Florida coaches while at USF.
Another coach who would fit this bill and VT's salary limitations is Illinois DBs coach Donnie Abraham. Abraham played several years in the NFL for Tampa Bay while also coaching at the high school level in Florida for several years before joining Illinois in 2017. Part of that experience came as the defensive coordinator at renowned IMG Academy in 2015 and 2016, a connection that would be quite valuable for any coaching staff.
One thing that Virginia Tech fans shouldn't expect is the Hokies to go with a prominent high school coach from Florida or somewhere in the Southeast. While there are likely some high school coaches who could be very good assistants, it would be surprising to see Fuente go with a coach that isn't an active collegiate coach.
3. Power 5 Experience Preferred But Not Necessary
While power 5 experience may not be a requirement especially if VT looks for a rising, young head coach; it likely will be a preference whether that experience is current or past. Now there may be a preference to go with a current power 5 assistant at a smaller program, but VT likely would be comfortable hiring a coach who isn't currently coaching at a power 5 program yet has coached at that level within the past few years.
Justin Fuente has mixed history in regards to going with a guy that has power 5 experience or not since assembling his initial staff. While Adam Lechtenberg was hired with no previous power 5 coaching experience, VT hired Brian Mitchell away from West Virginia to replace Torrian Gray after Gray left for Florida during the spring of Fuente's first year in Blacksburg.
While VT went in-house with their 10th assistant hiring of Adam Lechtenberg, it would be shocking to see VT go in-house again with Justin Hamilton being the only even semi-possible candidate from in-house.
One coach who isn't currently an on-field assistant that might jump at the job is TCU Director of Player Personnel DeMontie Cross. Cross was the defensive coordinator at Missouri in 2016 and 2017 under Barry Odom who was the Memphis defensive coordinator under Justin Fuente. In addition, Cross worked for TCU previously before then for three seasons under Gary Patterson, someone whom Justin Fuente has the highest respect for.
Cross may not be an on-field assistant at the moment, but he has a solid background and has coached safeties before in addition to playing safety at the collegiate level. Given his time spent with Patterson and Odom, Cross has some indirect connections to Fuente that make him a possible candidate.
Whenever Virginia Tech hires a replacement for Galen Scott, don't be surprised if VT hires a safeties coach with power 5 experience and Florida recruiting connections.
Photo Credit: Jake Roth
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