Virginia Tech Football Notes: Brent Pry Talks Staff Changes

Stu Holt, who coached running backs for Virginia Tech in 2022, is moving to tight ends. (Jon Fleming)

On Tuesday morning, Virginia Tech head coach Brent Pry and his three coordinators – Tyler Bowen (offensive), Chris Marve (defensive), Stu Holt (special teams) – spoke with the media. The program announced the additions of Elijah Brooks and Ron Crook to the staff on Monday afternoon, and spring practice begins on Thursday.

Here are some notes from Pry and the coordinators on the coaching staff additions and the changing of roles:

Connections Lead Brooks, Crook To Blacksburg

When Pry was hired in December 2021, he brought together assistant coaches from different backgrounds. Bowen was a familiar face from Penn State. J.C. Price and Pierson Prioleau, who oversee the defensive line and safeties, respectively, were already with the Hokies.

But Marve played for Pry at Vanderbilt in 2011. Linebackers coach Shawn Quinn worked with Pry from 2002-06 at Louisiana and again at Georgia Southern in 2010. Cornerbacks coach Derek Jones was with Pry at Memphis for a season in 2007. Holt and Pry crossed paths back in 1998 at Western Carolina.

Interestingly enough, only former offensive line coach Joe Rudolph and former quarterbacks coach Brad Glenn weren’t on a staff with Pry previously. Glenn’s lone connection was with Quinn at Western Carolina from 2013-15. And in February, both Glenn and Rudolph left.

Virginia Tech brought in Brooks from Maryland and Crook from South Dakota. Their experiences are vast – the former was DeMatha Catholic’s head coach from 2011-18 while the latter has been around the college game for more than 30 years. But how did they get to Blacksburg?

With Brooks, the connections date back to his DeMatha days. At Penn State, Pry recruited the school often. Bowen, a Maryland guy, was familiar with his work as well. Pry said James Franklin  actually considered hiring him at Penn State.

“He was very interested in what we were doing here,” Pry told reporters during a Tuesday press conference. “We’ve had a relationship for a while. Obviously, his ties to our footprint were really important. His affection for Virginia Tech was really important. How his former players and guys that have coached with him, how they talked about him and felt about him, really important. He’s a family man, he’s got three kids and a wife, and excited to have him on this journey with us, think he’s a great fit for us.”

Ron Crook’s West Virginia connections sold Brent Pry. (South Dakota Athletics)

It was a similar deal with Crook, though the relationships were different. A West Virginia native, Crook spent time at a few places familiar to Pry.

Pry’s father, Jim, coached at West Liberty State in 1981; Crook played there from 1986-88. Jim Pry was at West Virginia Tech for three years (1977-80); Crook was on staff for the 1999 season. Pry’s mother, Kathy, graduated from Glenville State; Crook coached there in 1997-98. And in the two years Pry spent coaching with his dad and mentoring Franklin at East Stroudsburg (1993-94), he faced Clarion, a fellow PSAC institution. Crook led the Golden Eagles to the NCAA Division II playoffs in 1996.

“Ron is everything that we’re about,” Pry said. “There’s a lot of people that reached out to me about Ron that I know and trust and have for a long time. … Guys that worked with him at West Virginia and Cincinnati that that I know very well.

“He was on the shortlist immediately. … You talk about his roots in West Virginia and what we want to be about and how we want to do this, he was our first choice. And I will say, there were sitting o-line coaches in the SEC and the Big 12 that were in the final list for this job.”

Bowen, Holt Shift Roles

As a result of Tech hiring Brooks, Holt is shifting from running backs to tight ends. But he’s comfortable there after spending many years at Louisville, Appalachian State, USF and Western Kentucky overseeing that group.

Eyebrows were raised elsewhere when Pry announced Bowen would be moving from tight ends to quarterbacks. An offensive lineman in college at Maryland, he has no experience coaching that position. But all parties feel comfortable with him in that position.

“I’m excited for our team because it’s gonna allow Coach Bowen, the playcaller, to be closer to our quarterback,” Holt said. “And I think that’s ultimately what you’re looking at when you see this move, it’s going to make us better offensively. … For me, personally, I love coaching the tight ends because we have a chance every play. We’re either run blocking, we’re catching a pass, we’re in pass protection.”

Pry said Bowen working with the quarterbacks was discussed when the original staff was hired. For undisclosed reasons, Virginia Tech chose not to go that route. But when Glenn started entertaining coordinator jobs elsewhere, Pry brought the idea up to Bowen again.

Tyler Bowen is now the quarterbacks coach at Virginia Tech. (Jon Fleming)

And, like Holt said, it now pairs the offensive coordinator with the quarterback. Bowen noted that he was already heavily involved in that room, and he noticed some benefits of that throughout the 2022 season. Now he won’t miss any day-to-day development, and it’ll let him find out more about how to best adapt the scheme to those players.

“I feel really good about the relationship there, the playcaller coaching the quarterbacks,” Pry said. “And he was very involved at that position all winter. In fact, that kind of started down the stretch last year. So, that’s been coming.

“There’s coaches that are good coaches and see the big picture, and Tyler is certainly one of those guys. He’s coached o-line, he’s coached tight ends, and I always felt like he’s one of the brightest guys I’ve been around. I think James Franklin felt that way, I think Urban Meyer felt that way. A lot of guys feel that way about Tyler. So, I’m excited for it. I think the quarterbacks have embraced it.”

To Bowen’s point, any OC works with his QBs, even if he isn’t their position coach. In theory, the change will be smooth and he won’t miss a beat, and he’ll have the opportunity to be more hands-on with that group.

“I think it was an easy transition from a relationship standpoint,” Bowen said. “I’m someone they’re familiar with. And I think they’re going to be very comfortable of understanding just more of the ‘why’ behind what we’re doing. I think we can do a better job of bridging that gap for those guys.”

5 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Didn’t Will give you some TSL gear to wear to these official events? When you get as famous as Andy Bitter you can show up in your LL Bean plaid flannel, until then you might want to show some colors and represent your crew (just in case someone takes your picture and posts it on a website).

    1. note: that picture uses the camera’s depth of field feature to blur the fact
      that DC had his HokieStone VT spandex shorts and HokieBird flip flops on
      which clashed with the Jos. A. Bank shirt.

      give the camera guy some props for protecting DC fashion faux pas. 😳 🙄 🥴

      DC: you might check out the “fanatics” website or thrift store on NMain
      for some apropos TSL attire – depending on the rate at which Will is
      compensating you.

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