Moving quickly to replace retiring linebackers coach Tracy Claeys, Virginia Tech announced Wednesday afternoon it has promoted former Hokies player and defensive quality control coach Jack Tyler to the role.
Claeys, 52, said in a statement Wednesday afternoon via his Twitter account he would be interested in pursuing a defensive coordinator position in the future, adding his decision to leave Virginia Tech after one season as the Hokies’ linebackers coach isn’t related to his health. While Claeys is stepping away after 25 years as a coach, Tyler will be taking on his first full-time assistant coaching job.
“Over the last 18 months, I have lost 125 pounds and feel great,” Claeys said on Twitter. “I still have the love and passion to coach the game and be involved in helping kids become young adults. ... I want to spend some time with family and friends back in Kansas and decide what is next. As far as my future, I do reserve the right to return to the game if a great situation to be a defensive coordinator comes along. If that opportunity does not happen for me, I have been very fortunate to spend the last 25 years coaching the game I love and being around people I love.”
Before arriving at Tech, Claeys was the defensive coordinator for two seasons at Washington State. He was also the head coach at Minnesota in 2016 and the last six games of the ’15 season. He was 11-8 with back-to-back bowl victories as the Golden Gophers’ coach.
He’s also held defensive coordinator roles at Minnesota (2011-15), Northern Illinois (2008-2010), Southern Illinois (2001-2007) and Emporia State (1999-200).
“On behalf of our entire football program, I want to thank Tracy Claeys for his contributions to our team,” Tech coach Justin Fuente said in a statement released by the athletic department. “Even though he was only with us for a short time, Tracy made a lasting impact on our players and coaches.”
Tyler arrived at Tech from Oakton as a walk-on in 2010. He earned a scholarship before being named a first-team All-ACC coaches selection in 2012 and a second-team pick in the conference in ’13 while playing under former Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster.
Selected the state high school defensive player of the year in his 2008 senior season at Oakton High, Tyler went on to play 54 games at Tech, finishing with 286 tackles, including 32 1/4 u00bd tackles for loss and 8 1/4 u00bd sacks.
After working as a graduate assistant in ’17 and ’18 at Tech, he advanced to the role of defensive quality control coach, serving as an assistant coach at times in the ’20 season when coronavirus quarantining resulted in temporary changes to Tech’s coaching roster.
“I’m beyond grateful to coach Fuente for placing his faith in me,” Tyler said in a statement. “Even while I was still a student-athlete, my dream job was to someday coach the position I played at my alma mater. Virginia Tech has made such an unbelievable impact on my life and I really try to pay that forward every day. I also owe a huge debt of gratitude to Coach Foster, who saw the potential in me to someday become a coach.”
Norm Wood, 757-247-4644, email@example.com