Cornerbacks coach Ryan Smith (Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech athletics)
Ryan Smith moves from Harrisonburg to Blacksburg
by Andy Hilton, recruit757
In what could be good news for in-state recruiting and good news for in-state recruits, James Madison safeties coach and pro scout liaison Ryan Smith has accepted the position of cornerbacks coach at Virginia Tech.
Smith’s abilities as a coach and his relationships in-state most certainly helped him land the job.
“We’re excited to add another talented coach to our staff in Ryan Smith,” head coach Justin Fuente said in a press release. “As a collegiate player he was groomed for a future in our profession by head coach Jimmye Laycock at William & Mary. He played the cornerback position for Coach Laycock and he was born and raised in Virginia. Ryan has grown at each stop of his coaching career and he’s earned the opportunity to join us at Virginia Tech. He’ll be a good fit with Coach Hamilton and the rest of our defensive staff.”
In 2019, James Madison boasted one of the nation’s stingiest defenses at the FCS level as the Dukes ranked third in scoring defense (14.9 ppg), first in total defense (264.7 ypg) and second in third-down percentage (29.0%) en route to a berth in the FCS National Championship Game. James Madison also tied for seventh with 17 interceptions, 11 of which came from Smith’s safeties unit.
Smith is a native of King George, Virginia and he has quickly moved up the coaching ranks. Prior to coaching at James Madison in 2019, Smith coached the secondary at Elon University for 2017 and 2018. In 2015 and 2016, Coach Smith worked two seasons at Penn State, serving as a defensive graduate assistant. Smith spent one season as a defensive graduate assistant at the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2014.
“I’m honored to accept this opportunity to coach at a place like Virginia Tech,” Smith said. “I grew up admiring the Hokies playing hard-hitting defense and being opportunistic on special teams. To have an opportunity to help carry on that tradition under Coach Fuente is truly a blessing. I can’t wait to be on the sideline at Lane Stadium and feel the passion of the fans as Hokie Nation starts jumping.”
A 2014 graduate of the College of William & Mary, Smith helped the Tribe to a 2009 FCS semifinals appearance. As a senior cornerback, Smith tallied 47 tackles, one sack and one interception. In total, he played in 22 games for the Tribe and was a two-time CAA Academic All-Conference honoree. He earned his bachelor’s degree in process management from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Penn State University. Smith is among a long lineage of current coaches who played under Laycock at William & Mary, a distinguished group that includes current NFL head coaches Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh) and Sean McDermott (Buffalo).
Smith was two-year letter winner as a defensive back and wide receiver for head coach Del Smith at The Blue Ridge School. He served as a team captain during his senior season and was selected to the all-state second team as a wide receiver. Smith also captained his prep basketball and baseball squads, helping the basketball team to a state runner-up finish as a senior and a state semi-finals appearance as a junior.
2020 Virginia Tech Football Coaching Staff
Justin Fuente Head Coach
Brad Cornelsen Offensive Coordinator & Quarterbacks
Justin Hamilton Defensive Coordinator & Safeties
Tracy Claeys Linebackers
Adam Lechtenberg Running Backs
James Shibest Special Teams Coordinator & Tight Ends
Ryan Smith Cornerbacks
Darryl Tapp Co-Defensive Line
Bill Teerlinck Defensive Line
Vance Vice Offensive Line
Jafar Williams Wide Receivers
– Andy Hilton
Parts of this article were taken from the official press release from Virginia Tech athletics.