Virginia has hired Navy defensive ends/outside linebackers coach Kevin Downing as a defensive assistant, the school announced Wednesday.
Downing, a North Carolina Central graduate, has been at Navy for three seasons, after previously working at Kennesaw State, Elon and Winston-Salem State. Downing’s exact assignment at UVa will be determined as more hires are announced.
Virginia had reportedly targeted Purdue assistant — and former Charlotte head coach — Brad Lambert to be Elliott’s defensive coordinator, but Lambert took the defensive coordinator post at Wake Forest instead.
Downing is the second official hire for new coach Tony Elliott’s staff.
On Tuesday, the school announced the hiring of Atlanta Falcons running backs coach Des Kitchings, a former North Carolina State assistant, as offensive coordinator.
Elliott also retained defensive line coach Clint Sintim from the previous staff, along with wide receivers coach Marques Hagans and offensive line coach Garett Tujague.
After a strong 2019 season that ended with an ACC Coastal Division title and a trip to the Orange Bowl, UVA’s defense struggled the past two years. Coach Bronco Mendenhall announced his decision to step away from college football following this past season, which ended when the 6-6 Cavaliers’ appearance in the Fenway Bowl was canceled due to COVID-19 issues within the UVA program.
In 2022, Elliott and his staff will need to replace a number of key starters, including linebacker Noah Taylor, who is transferring to North Carolina, and safety Joey Blount, a senior.
The team does return inside linebacker Nick Jackson, Virginia’s leading tackler this past season with 117 tackles in 12 games.