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It’s official: Virginia names Tony Elliott new head football coach

tony elliott virginia
Tony Elliott. Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

Virginia athletics director Carla Williams has her man: Tony Elliott, recently of Clemson, as offensive coordinator, will replace Bronco Mendenhall as the head football coach.

The announcement Friday afternoon ended a long week for UVA fans and alums, who had to endure unconfirmed reports that Williams had first offered the job to former Virginia football great Anthony Poindexter, then wait two uncomfortable days after it became apparent that Elliott was her top choice.

Elliott had traveled to Charlottesville on Wednesday for an interview with Williams, but left Thursday with no word on his status, and he told a reporter back in South Carolina that it was his decision to make, ostensibly admitting that he’d been offered the job.

Williams then reportedly interviewed Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis Thursday night, just in case Elliott were to decide not to take the job.

Elliott, 42, had also been in the mix for the open job at Duke, which parted ways with long-time coach David Cutcliffe two weeks ago, and just last year had turned down the job at Tennessee.

Elliott is one of those guys who has been talked about as the next up-and-coming coach for a while. The play-caller for the Clemson offense under head coach Dabo Swinney for the past seven years, Elliott directed offensive units that included superstar QBs DeShaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence and two-time ACC Player of the Year tailback Travis Etienne.

Clemson competed in six College Football Playoffs with Elliott at the helms of the Clemson offense, winning two national championships in his tenure.

“This is an awesome opportunity for the University of Virginia as we welcome Coach Tony Elliott into the UVA football family,” Williams said. “Coach Elliott is a winner, in every sense of the word. He is known for his character, humility, work ethic, skill set and passion for education. Coach Elliott is an exceptional leader of young men and he is highly regarded across college football as a talented teacher and coach. He is an outstanding recruiter who has been responsible for recruiting, signing and developing scholar-athletes while competing for and winning championships.

“We aspire to elevate UVA football in a manner that is consistent with the University’s core mission and purpose. Coach Elliott understands and embraces this amazing opportunity to do something really special at the University of Virginia. I am thrilled for the young men in our football program. We are honored to welcome him, his wife Tamika and their sons, A.J. and Ace, to Virginia,” Williams said.

Elliott was a walk-on wide receiver at Clemson who was voted by his teammates to serve as a team captain his senior year.

He was also a top student as an undergrad, earning his undergraduate degree in industrial engineering, and he was a first-team Academic All-ACC selection as well as a CoSIDA Academic District III member. He was also a recipient of an ACC Weaver-James-Corrigan Postgraduate Scholarship.

Elliott, who was named the Frank Broyles Award recipient as the nation’s top assistant coach in 2017, began his coaching career at South Carolina State (2006-2007) before moving on to Furman (2008-10), coaching wide receivers at both schools.

He joined the staff at Clemson under Swinney in 2011, and was promoted to co-offensive coordinator prior to the 2014 Russell Athletic Bowl.

The Tigers posted an 89-10 record and ranked in the top 12 nationally in total offense in his tenure leading the offense. Clemson either led or ranked No. 2 in the ACC in total offense in five of his seven seasons as an offensive coordinator.

Elliott’s 2018 and 2019 offenses were responsible for two of the 22 650-point seasons in major college football history.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
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