I had really high hopes for Darryl Tapp.
When Tapp was hired to Virginia Tech’s staff as the assistant defensive line coach, I envisioned a scenario where Tapp’s long NFL career, storied past in Blacksburg and connection to the Hampton Roads area would bear delicious fruit for the Hokies.
My vision included a larger and more productive defensive front that more closely resembled that of college football’s elite. It included Tapp boosting Virginia Tech’s recruiting efforts, not just along the defensive line but in his home area, one of the biggest population centers in the Commonwealth.
It included Tapp assisting Bill Teerlinck in the development of those recruits that Tapp helped sign.
It included Tapp playing an integral role in repairing and harmonizing alumni relations for Virginia Tech’s football program.
That vision dissipated this week, as ESPN’s Field Yates reported that Tapp had accepted a job on the West Coast with the San Francisco 49ers.
While Tapp certainly created results in his short time in Blacksburg as a coach, it’s clear the fruit that was ripening was picked far too early. It’s sour now, far too sour for a fan’s liking.
No one can fault Tapp for furthering his coaching career. He’ll learn more working the NFL than he will working in Blacksburg under a defensive coordinator who has almost the same number of years as an FBS coach as he does. Not to mention, who even knows if the Virginia Tech staff will return after the 2021 season.
But Tapp was supposed to play an integral role in reviving the Virginia Tech football program. His personality, charisma and experience could’ve potentially solved two of the Hokies’ core issues — recruiting inside the Commonwealth and the disconnect between the program and it’s former players.
As my friend Dave Scarangella noted, the timing is certainly odd.
With Tapp gone, who is to take up the mantle? Is it Justin Hamilton, who has had limited success on his own as a recruiter? How about new linebackers coach Jack Tyler? Can he relate with recruits and former players as well as Tapp has so far?
No matter who you settle on, there is no real comparison. Tapp was uniquely built for those roles and nobody is going to fill those holes quite like he would have.
Losing an assistant coach is rarely a death knell for a program, but this sure as heck feels like one. Virginia Tech desperately needed what Tapp had to offer, not just as a coach but as a person.
Now, Virginia Tech must turn to another fruit to eat. Who knows if that fruit has even been planted, if it’ll taste good or if it will even be ready before this coaching staff is eschewed from their offices in Merryman Athletic Center.
One thing is for certain — the early returns from Virginia Tech’s offseason haven’t offered a reason to believe that so many are craving.