Inside HOKIE SPORTS | Vol. 14 No. 4 | February 2022

8 Inside Hokie Sports “Lastly, and not any less important, I wanted to hire men that would be excited about the opportunity at Virginia Tech. I didn’t hire anybody that wasn’t thrilled and recognized the opportunity to be here and what it can do for them personally and how they can help Virginia Tech. Being excited about the opportunity, that was a critical component to it, as well.” On run game coordinator/offensive line coach Joe Rudolph who joined Tech from Wisconsin “Joe and I obviously had a mutual respect for one another, coaching against Joe in the Big Ten the last several years. I loved what they did with their line play. Joe I knew about from his time at Pitt when he was there with Coach [Paul] Chryst and he’s a Pittsburgh guy. My Dad knew about Joe and there’s kind of some deep roots in knowing about one another. Joe reached out to me, initially, with an interest in the position and it kind of went from there. He was excited about the opportunity for change, for something new. He was excited about the opportunity to get closer to family. He was excited about my vision for Virginia Tech football. He knows a lot about this place. To me, what Joe Rudolph is about and how he coaches his line was exactly what I was looking for. The physical piece, the size, the strength, the maturity. His experience at the position, Joe’s been a play caller in the Big Ten. Then he’s got experience in our footprint. Pittsburgh’s going to be an important area for us. It just makes sense, you kept checking all the boxes, and we kind of recruited each other in this thing.” On what made him believe in offensive coordinator/ tight ends coach Tyler Bowen “Just my relationship with Tyler. He first impressed me as a recruiter. He was one of our ace recruiters at Penn State. He had a heavy hand in getting guys from the DMV and from Virginia. That was where he first impressed me and then just his knowledge of the game. Being around him for multiple years, he’s got a very high football IQ. Coach [James] Franklin and myself felt very strongly about Tyler and what his future looked like. I had the opportunity see it firsthand in our Cotton Bowl. He did a tremendous job, we scored 50+ points, as the play caller in that game. He’s very familiar with the offensive style I wanted to run. So, again, it checked all the boxes. He was my absolute first choice. It did make it a little bit more challenging that [Jacksonville] didn’t release him right away. We thought that would happen and it didn’t. But all in all, certainly worth the wait for Tyler to join us here.” On Bowen not being released immediately by the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars “I had a conversation with the general manager [Trent Baalke] there. Very respectful, I understood the situation they were in. Tyler was able to do some things that led to this job but they asked that he’d be able to finish out the season so we did that. Tyler was involved in conversations with possible candidates for every position offensively.” On his vision for Virginia Tech’s recruiting footprint “Literally, you could take Blacksburg and draw a six-hour radius around it. That’s where we’re honing in first. That doesn’t mean there’s not going to be opportunities in other areas, but we want to be strong in North Carolina and parts of South Carolina. We’re going to be heavy in parts of Pennsylvania. Obviously, the DMV is going to be important, as well. East Tennessee, we’ve got some relationships there even into central Tennessee. When you’re in an area that you can drive into Virginia Tech with your coach or with your family, that’s important to me, especially in this portal era. When somebody is going through a tough time and making tough choices about whether or not to stay at Virginia Tech, I want to have relationships with the coach and with the family, whether it’s the uncle, the parent, coach, mentor or handler. Part of that is those folks coming on visits with them, coming on junior days, coming on official visits, coming when they drop them off at Virginia Tech so that we have a chance to work through difficult times with these young men. That footprint is important for a lot of reasons. I think there’s awful good players in our footprint. I told the staff this morning unless there’s some reason for us to go west of the Mississippi, I told them we’re not doing it. I don’t want to see that you’re traveling to Texas, or you’re traveling to Nebraska, or you’re traveling to California unless there’s some type of relation with Virginia Tech or the state of Virginia. A family member went to Tech, whatever the case is, you maybe used to live in Virginia, used to live in the footprint, best friend is on the roster. If there’s not a reason, we’re not just going to throw darts across the Mississippi.” On recruiting the state of Pennsylvania “I think you can hit the three primary areas and they’re all accessible to Blacksburg. You get into Pittsburgh and do a nice job and obviously I have relationships there as well as some of the staff members. You can really get to Harrisburg pretty quick. I know Harrisburg very well, that was my recruiting area. I’ve signed several young men from Harrisburg in my time at Penn State. Then Philadelphia is a little bit farther, but I also think there’s opportunity there. There are guys on this roster from Philadelphia. I think those are going to be important. You get into Philly, you’re just across the river from New Jersey and have a chance to tap into Jersey a little bit. I think we can get to a lot of good kids in short order.” On hiring offensive recruiting coordinator/wide receivers coach Fontel Mines off ODU head coach Ricky Rahne’s staff “We went to a Penn State dinner that Coach [James] Franklin puts on at our national convention every year. I walked up and it was Charles Huff, it was Ricky Rahne and it was James and I’ve recently hired men from each one of their staffs. So they said ‘oh you’re not invited at this table.’ So we joked around about it a little bit but obviously I trust those guys and there’s common thread with what I’m looking for with what those guys were looking for so it made sense. When people reached out, particularly about Fontel but you know I knew Deege [Dwight] Galt already from my time at Penn State and it just reinforced it. Ricky said he had done such a great job. Then with Fontel, honestly I was searching for somebody that had strong ties in the state of Virginia. I thought we had really hit the footprint well and I wanted a stamp on this last position, if able to, somebody that had deep roots in the state of Virginia. When you talk about Fontel, he’s from Richmond, he played at UVA, he coached at Richmond for five years, he coached at James Madison and all he’s ever recruited is the state of Virginia. So to me, this was a home run hire in a lot of ways, obviously on the recruiting front. He’s close to a lot of the guys that played here at Tech in the same era. There’s a lot of familiarity with Fontel. He’s an in-state prospect that was recruited hard by Virginia Tech and Virginia. So a lot of folks in Hokie Nation know about Fontel and respect Fontel. Ultimately, my conversation with Ricky Rahne, as well as some others that have worked with Fontel or that he’s worked for. There was a lot of good candidates for that position, let me say, some very good candidates and some with Virginia Tech ties. I was very pleased with the opportunity and the guys that we interviewed.” On hiring defensive analyst Xavier Adibi “I know a lot about Xavier, have had a lot of respect from afar, but also had conversations primarily with Bud Foster about Xavier. Then, once I got on the phone with him, which we talked multiple times, he’s not just a proud Hokie and an a successful Hokie, he’s done a very nice job in a short time in his coaching career, having success, being productive. Obviously, he’s also an additional member to the staff that has strong ties to the state of Virginia. So he checked a ton of boxes and I feel very fortunate to have him and his family coming back to Blacksburg.” Continued from page 7 HEAD COACH BRENT PRY