Bud Foster coached Virginia Tech’s linebackers for 32 years. His replacement lasted one football season. So, now the Hokies are turning to a Foster disciple.
Former Tech linebacker Jack Tyler will coach that position, taking over for Tracy Claeys, the former Minnesota coach who announced his retirement from being a position coach Wednesday.
Claeys said he’d still be open to accepting a defensive coordinator position elsewhere.
“Even while I was still a student-athlete, my dream job was to someday coach the position I played at my alma mater,” said Tyler in a statement released by the school. “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.”
Tyler played linebacker for the Hokies from 2010 to 2013, starting his career as a walk-on and ending it as an all-ACC selection.
He returned to Tech as a graduate assistant in 2017 and 2018, before being promoted to a defensive quality control position. He spent the past season working under Claeys, who became the team’s linebackers coach after Foster’s retirement.
The Hokies promoted another former player, Justin Hamilton, to replace Foster as the team’s defensive coordinator at that point.
Wednesday, Foster tweeted his reaction to Tyler’s promotion.
“I couldn’t be more excited for him or more proud of him,” Foster tweeted. “I’ve had the pleasure of watching him develop and evolve as a man, a player and as a coach. He’s a special man and has a bright future in this business.”
Tech went 5-6 this past season, beating rival UVA to end the season and then opting out of a bowl game. That decision ended the program’s streak at 27 years.
On his Twitter account, Claeys said his pseudo-retirement is not health-related, noting that he lost 125 pounds during the past 18 months.
“I still have the love and passion to coach the game and be involved in helping kids become young adults,” Claeys tweeted. “However, I want to spend some time with family and friends back in [Kansas] and decide what’s next.”
Claeys made it clear his retirement could end “if a great situation to become a defensive coordinator comes along.”
“Even though he was only with us for a short time, Tracy made a lasting impact on our players and coaches,” said Tech coach Justin Fuente in a statement released by the school. “Tracy is not only an outstanding football coach, but he’s also one of the finest people I’ve had the pleasure of working with in this profession. I appreciated the way he helped mentor members of our staff, as well as the manner in which he conveyed his knowledge of the game to our players. We all wish Tracy the very best going forward.”