Virginia Tech’s hiring of Justin Hamilton as the Hokies’ new safeties coach won’t wow anyone, and that’s perfectly alright.
Word began to spread over the weekend that Tyrone Nix, who was hired to replace Galen Scott as Virginia Tech’s safeties coach prior to the 2018 season, was leaving to return to Mississippi and Ole Miss. That move became official on Monday, when Tech announced that Nix was leaving and that Hamilton was being promoted to take his place.
At this stage of the offseason, it’s likely that Hamilton was the best and most realistic option on the table for Virginia Tech. Though it won’t draw a ton of national coverage, Hamilton’s hire has the real possibility to make the Hokies better.
As well-traveled and experienced as Nix was, his work in Blacksburg is worthy of heavy criticism. Just about all of Nix’s players either regressed or failed to develop in any distinct way in 2018, leaving Tech’s most experienced defensive unit from last season confused and struggling.
The team’s free safety, Divine Deablo, never returned to form after his foot injury in 2017. His battery mate, Reggie Floyd, wasn’t able to cover for the secondary’s mistakes and made plenty of his own errors. Whip linebacker Khalil Ladler was the best one in the group, but five-star recruit Devon Hunter made no progressions and redshirted after playing in the Hokies’ first four games.
Whatever Nix was selling, Tech’s safeties didn’t get better because of it. We’d have to dig deeper into the film to find all the root causes, but from my view, Nix failed to make his players better.
Hamilton will be dealing with the same group of guys, but I’m expecting the results to be much different. The former Tech safety coached four seasons at VMI before returning to Blacksburg last year as director of player development on defense. Hamilton spent much of January on the road recruiting on a temporary basis and he already has the love and respect from many of Tech’s former and current players.
— Slick ! 🎱 (@RickGoGetEmWalk) February 18, 2019
My Dawg https://t.co/YVkEbWWVM4
— Hunter (@devonhunter11) February 18, 2019
— Ryan Willis (@RyanWillis14) February 18, 2019
— Reggie Floyd (@21Live_) February 18, 2019
Having a coach with credentials is important, but having one that the players love and respect is just as critical. Playing for a coach that you enjoy playing for and being around is essential, and it’s clear there’s a lot of love for Hamilton in Blacksburg.
This is no guarantee that Hamilton will be successful, but the move makes sense. He has a stellar reputation inside and outside the program (link requires subscription) and his ability to relate to the players will boost a team’s morale that may have been shaken this offseason. Hamilton has earned this promotion and it’s time to see if he’s for real.