Head coach Justin Fuente promoted Jack Tyler to linebackers coach and brought former Tech defensive tackle J.C. Price back to Blacksburg as co-defensive line coach/defensive recruiting coordinator earlier this year, bringing the number of former players working with Tech Football up to seven.
Tyler and Price conducted virtual media sessions Wednesday.
A third-team All-America selection for the Hokies as a senior in 1995, Price was a four-year starter who captained Tech’s 1995 Big East championship team that defeated Texas in the Sugar Bowl. He returned to his alma mater after spending the past nine seasons at Marshall University, most recently as co-defensive coordinator (2019-20).
Here are some notable takeaways from Price’s session.
On the facility upgrades that have taken place since he last worked at Tech in 2002 as a grad assistant:
“The donations that people have made for things to help our student-athletes were needed. The upgrades have been incredible. The whole ambiance of the place is very conducive for our student-athletes to achieve what they want to achieve athletically and academically.”
On building a relationship with Coach Bill Teerlinck:
“I think Coach Teerlinck and I will get along great. We took some time one Saturday afternoon to meet and talk football. The next thing you know, four hours later we’re still talking about football.”
Recently, current Tech defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton discussed the rapport that he built with Price while he was coaching at Marshall. What Price revealed Wednesday was that at one point Marshall actually offered Hamilton a position on the Thundering Herd staff. Instead, Hamilton came back to Tech in 2018 and in 2021 played an integral role in bringing Price back to Blacksburg.
Tyler began his career at Virginia Tech as a walk-on linebacker before eventually earning a scholarship and developing into an All-ACC linebacker for the Hokies. A four-year letterwinner from 2010-13, the Oakton, Va., native played in Tech’s 2010 ACC Championship Game win over Florida State and was part of squads that compiled 37 wins during his playing career, including a 4-0 mark against in-state rival Virginia.
Tyler returned to his alma mater as a graduate assistant on defense for the 2017-18 campaigns before taking on a role as defensive quality control coach in 2019 and 2020.
Here are some notable takeaways from Tyler’s media session.
“It’s a dream come true for me to be back at my alma mater, coaching a position that I love at a place that I love. I’m so appreciative of Coach Fuente and Coach Hamilton, as well as Coach (Tracy) Claeys and Coach (Bud) Foster for how they’ve molded me and gotten me to the place I am now.” Claeys retired as the VT linebackers coach in January after one season in Blacksburg.
On the influence of Bud Foster on his coaching style:
“If there were a person you said I could be a carbon copy of, it would be Bud Foster. That’s as high of a compliment that I could receive. Obviously I learned so much from him in terms of linebacker play and defensive play.”
On linebacker Dax Hollfield playing the middle linebacker spot:
“He’s a leader of the defense, he’s the quarterback of the defense, that’s what the MIKE role is. You’re right in the middle, you’re getting everyone lined up, you’re making sure everyone knows their responsibilities to the field or the boundary. He’s amazing at that. He’s another coach on the field.
“All you have to do is tell Dax and he’s going to get it done. That’s so valuable in today’s football because we’re not like the NFL where they have (speakers) in the helmets where you can communicate to that guy on the field. We don’t have that.
“Being able to communicate on Tuesday this is exactly what we want in a certain situation and if it occurs on Saturday, we want you to do it this way and he can get that done, that’s as valuable of a resource as you can have.”
Tyler also discussed a crazy week of preparation leading up to last season’s 38-31 win at Duke. Tech was extremely short-handed on the defensive side of the ball both in terms of coaches and players. With Justin Hamilton and Ryan Smith unable to be in the building or travel to the game, a heavy load of responsibility was placed on Tyler’s shoulders and he was ready for the moment.
The Virginia Player of the Year at Oakton High School as a senior in 2008, Tyler set a school record with 147 tackles before enrolling at Tech and redshirting in 2009. He went on to play in 54 games for the Hokies, finishing his career with 286 tackles (124 solo), 8.5 sacks and 32.5 tackles for loss. Tyler led Tech in tackles in both 2012 and 2013. He was a first-team All-ACC selection in 2012 and a second-team All-ACC pick in 2013.