As it relates to defense, new Hokie Coach Brent Pry is not wasting any time.
On the day he was named head coach, Pry also announced the JC Price would be staying on to coach the defensive line. Today, two more additions to the staff were announced: Derek Jones, who most recently served as associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator at Texas Tech, and Shawn Quinn, who most recently was the head coach at Savannah State.
There’s a definite pattern to the hires. In Jones, Pry is hiring a 23-year coaching veteran who has focused on the secondary and defensive backs in his coaching stops at Duke, Memphis, Tulsa, Middle Tennessee State, Murray State and Ole Miss. Pry's association with Jones dates back to the 2007 season at Memphis when Jones coached the secondary and Tech's current head coach worked with the Tigers' defensive line.
In Quinn, a quick look at his background shows his title was usually defensive coordinator/linebackers at stops that include Savannah State, The Citadel, Tennessee Tech, Western Carolina, Charleston Southern, Northwestern State, LSU, Louisiana-Lafayette and Tennessee. Pry and Quinn previously collaborated at Georgia Southern in 2010 when Pry served as defensive coordinator and Quinn worked as the linebackers coach. The duo also worked together at Louisiana-Lafayette from 2002-06 in the same roles.
So Pry has now hired three assistant coaches – Price, Jones and Quinn – that all have experience running the show as either a defensive coordinator/associate head coach or a head coach, yet each specializes in one of the three components of any successful defense: defensive line (Price), linebackers (Quinn) and secondary (Jones).
In addition, Quinn and Jones have coached special teams, with Jones credited during his 12 years at Duke with making players like Jamison Crowder much more valuable in the NFL because of his emphasis with them on being a great special teams players. And Price grew up in Frank Beamer’s Pride and Joy atmosphere which emphasized special teams.
All three are considered good recruiters as well. Price, in fact, flipped 4-star tight end/linebacker prospect Benji Gosnell from his original commitment to Ohio State to Virginia Tech this weekend. The 6-foot 5-inch, 240-pounder spent about nine months committed to Ohio State before re-opening his recruitment over the summer, and was getting a huge push from North Carolina.
The big hiring to many will be when an offensive coordinator is named, but these initial hirings seem to indicate Pry is a man with a plan, focusing on the defensive identity he wants his new team to have. All have leadership experience, while all also have specific knowledge of the X’s and O’s of the components that make up a solid defense.
Not bad for his first few days on the job…