Virginia Tech names Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry new head football coach
Pry had most recently served as the defensive coordinator at Penn State for the past eight seasons under head coach James Franklin. The 51-year-old had served as a grad assistant at Virginia Tech under Foster and then-head coach Frank Beamer from 1995-1997.
“On behalf of Amy and our family, we are extremely grateful to President Sands and Whit for extending us this opportunity at Virginia Tech,” Pry said. “Working for Coach Beamer and Coach Foster as a graduate assistant in the 1990s, I was privileged to have been a part of this program as the Hokies established themselves as a national power, consistently proving they could beat anyone in the nation.
“Even after I departed Blacksburg, I always continued to appreciate Virginia Tech, its great players, its championship teams, and its wonderful traditions from afar,” Pry said. “The resources, facilities, university backing of Athletics, and phenomenal fan support that Virginia Tech enjoys made this a very desirable situation. But just as importantly, the opportunity to raise our children in a community like Blacksburg also has great appeal.
“We can’t wait to meet the team, the support staff, and Hokie Nation. We will be prepared to hit the ground running in order to attract the type of student-athletes to Virginia Tech who can help us achieve sustained success. Go Hokies!”
Virginia Tech finished the 2021 regular season with a 6-6 record. The school parted ways with sixth-year head coach Justin Fuente two weeks ago, reportedly paying Fuente an $8.75 million buyout to be able to get in line early for the coaching carousel silly season.
Interim coach J.C. Price will continue to serve in that role through Tech’s bowl game, and Pry has indicated that Price will remain on his staff thereafter as associate head coach/defensive coach.
Pry worked with Price during his senior season as a player in 1995 when Tech finished the season with 10 consecutive wins, culminating with a 28-10 win in the Sugar Bowl over No. 9 Texas.
The school, according to several reports, had show interest in Louisiana coach Billy Napier, who ended up replacing Dan Mullen at Florida, and Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson, who signed an extension with that school, taking him off the market.
Pry will be a first-time head coach, a bit of a risk, but on the plus side, he does bring 30 years of experience, including the past 11 at the Power 5 level at Vanderbilt and Penn State.
“Coach Pry owns a winning track record on the football field, as well as a history of developing young men into leaders off the field and in the classroom,” Tech Athletics Director Whit Babcock sasid. “He’s earned his way up the coaching ranks, and we believe he is the right person to lead Virginia Tech Football and to achieve the goals that we all aspire to attaining. He and his staff will aggressively recruit our region to keep in-state recruits home and attract the talent necessary to win championships in Blacksburg.”
Let’s be clear here: before you can dream about championships, this is, first and foremost, a rebuilding job. The Tech program has been in a downturn since the tail end of the Beamer era. The last four years under Beamer saw the Hokies go just 29-23, and after Fuente led Tech to 10-4 and 9-4 records in his first two seasons, in 2016 and 2017, the program has been 25-24 since.
Pry has experience with rebuilds with his time at Penn State, which was still in the throes of the post-Jerry Sandusky days when Franklin took over in 2014. By Year 3, in 2016, Franklin had the Nittany Lions back to double-digit wins, as the program put up a 42-11 record over the four-year span from 2016-2020.
“I’m truly excited for Brent and his family,” said Franklin, who was the quarterback at East Stroudsburg University in 1994-1994 when Pry was an assistant on the staff. “He’s a passionate leader who’ll inspire his team to play their best football; but his greatest strengths are his dedication, relatability and humility. It’s those characteristics combined with his deep understanding of X&Os that will serve Virginia Tech and the entire Blacksburg community best.”
Pry is basically everything that Fuente wasn’t – a guy with extensive Power 5 experience who won’t have to learn the lunch pail culture in Blacksburg.
“Virginia Tech is getting a great coach and a wonderful fit for our football program in Brent Pry,” Beamer said. “Not only is Brent exceptionally intelligent, he also possesses a great deal of football knowledge. Growing up as the son of a coach, he’s been around the game all of his life. I’m confident that he’ll do a tremendous job as head coach of the Hokies.”
“It’s been such a pleasure to watch Brent grow, mature and excel at a very high level in the coaching profession,” Foster said. “I’m so excited that he’s earned this opportunity to lead our football program. The best coaches are the ones who are always striving to get better, who are open to new ideas and who can put their players in the best position to be successful. Brent embodies all of those qualities and so many others that it takes to be a leader. I’m so excited that he’s coming back to Virginia Tech.”
Pry will be formally introduced to Hokie Nation at 9 a.m. ET Thursday in Blacksburg. The event will be streamed live at HokieSports.com/Watch.
Story by Chris Graham