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

10 Inside Hokie Sports tough? Is he a leader? All those things. Your strength coach is in those adverse situations with your players and they can identify those things the quickest. Who rises to the top? Who doesn’t have the strength right now the mental toughness to endure a tough situation? Who bowed out in a competitive situation? Who’s injury prone? Who’s tough minded and can work with some injury? Who’s the leader by example? Who’s a vocal leader? Those guys are the first ones to recognize those traits that are important to us to identify.” On how the staff plans to split up Virginia in recruiting “[Senior Director of Player Personnel] Mike Villagrana had a conversation with each staff member about where they felt they had the best relationships. That wasn’t the deciding factor but that was an important factor in laying out the area. We’ve got the state divided up right now. We told the coaches this morning, this may move a little bit, but for these next couple of weeks, let’s treat it as such. Then as we have more time to plan it out, there may be some tweaks to it but it was relationship-based, experience-based more than anything.” On the hiring of senior offensive analyst Brian Crist “Two things: number one, Brian’s a trusted friend and he understands Virginia Tech. He loves Virginia Tech, his whole family does. He’s got family members coaching in the state. Obviously, his dad had tremendous success so this was a no brainer for me. Then you couple that with his experiences and where he’s been in his career. I think he’s an asset. These analysts, to me, I know we’ve hired Brian on offense but I just talked with him yesterday about the possibilities of helping our defense. For me, I had two offensive coaches in the defensive staff room the last couple of years. Experienced guys, protection guys, quarterback play reads, route progressions. I had two full-time guys as analysts in the room with me and I know how valuable that was. We’re still building our analyst pool, we have a couple left to hire. Once we get everybody on board, we’ll look at the best way to fit those guys into what we’re doing. But Brian’s an asset whether he’s on offense or defense. He was here last year so he understands the personnel, understands what those guys were being coached to do. He’s been a big asset already and will continue to be.” On how his staff has been received by Virginia high school coaches “I haven’t necessarily talked to them about the staff. We had three or four guys in place for that last week of December recruiting. I was out in the schools for a week and I had [defensive recruiting coordinator/ cornerbacks coach] Derek Jones with me, [Sam linebackers/nickels coach] Shawn Quinn, [associate head coach/defensive line coach] J.C. Price, [safeties coach] Pierson Prioleau, those guys were out on the road. They know about half the staff. Obviously, everybody’s excited. I think the remainder of the staff, there’s a lot of familiarity with coaches in the state of who we’ve hired. So I think I think the coaches will be very pleased with the men I’ve hired. They’re not only outstanding coaches and recruiters, but they’re just great men. They understand the importance of these high school coaches and they’re going to work to build the relationships that are necessary. We talked this morning about how we’re not just interested in walking into high school and throwing a handshake and leaving. We want to get to know these coaches. We want to get to know the people in that school. One of the things we added to the recruiting documents this morning was I want these guys to know if they’re walking into Highland Springs High School, what’s the head coach’s background, where did they play? That would be important in Highland Springs, obviously. How many guys have come to Virginia Tech? Who are they to have come from that high school? Is there an administrator, a teacher in high school that’s a Hokie? We want to know those things because we want to work on those relationships as well. It’s all important.” On whether the spring schedule and spring game have been finalized “We’re still working through the calendar. We have it in-house right now, we’re just finalizing it. The calendar I would say is about 90 percent in place.” On what characteristic stands out about his assistant coach hires “Honestly, I would say people skills. I just wanted to hire guys that could relate to the players, to families. Great communicators with these high school coaches, with our former players. That would probably be first. The second thing, as I mentioned, was men that wanted to be here, that recognized how special this place is and wanted to jump on board for the same reason that I did. A lot of these guys were in good situations. For some of these guys, people would say ‘Oh man that’s a lateral move.’ Well it’s not because of what they recognize is going on here. You’re hiring men from Wisconsin and Louisville and really good places and also there’s coaches trying to keep guys on staff, so I was appreciative of the guys that joined us.” On his relationship with Penn State head coach James Franklin in the first couple weeks since taking the job “It’s been invaluable, not just my conversations with him, but also situations I’ve been in that, naturally, I feel myself handling it the way James would have. Being his right-hand guy and being on his hip for 12 years, being involved in a lot of tough situations and hiring process and firing process and recruitment and administrative relations. It’s been very helpful in this transition. James and I have always aligned pretty closely to how we thought things should be and how to handle situations. So, it’s only reinforced the way I want to do things and how I’m able to do things. We spent a lot of time together at the national convention. Myself and James and my Dad tossed some things around and kicked things around. I had conversations with him about each and every wide receiver candidate I interviewed. That was important to me. My father sat in all five interviews. Again, trusted people that have been with me a long time and know more than anybody how I want to do things.” On his thoughts on recruiting junior college players “That’s an interesting question. One of my really good friends is the head coach at Lackawanna Community College, Mark Duda. Coach Duda has done a tremendous job. It’s a little bit different because most of your junior college guys, and majority of them are guys that came directly from high school, some of them are bounce backs, but maybe they’re there because the grades weren’t in order, things like that. I don’t think it’s going to affect them as dramatically as maybe people think. I think the junior colleges will still be an important piece to it. Guys are there on those rosters for one reason or another, whereas your portal guys are directly coming from another four year institution. I think it’s just another avenue. I’ve already had a couple conversations with Coach Duda about upcoming guys on the roster in areas of need. When you look at the portal, sometimes you’re looking at guys with three or four years still to play so you can treat them more as a developmental player. When you look at the junior colleges, it’s more two to three year players, who maybe have a chance to come in and impact your roster immediately as a starter. The portal sometimes is three to four year guys and sometimes its grad transfers that only have one year. It’s just eligibility left and what your needs are.” Continued from page 9 HEAD COACH BRENT PRY