BLACKSBURG, VA. – Tracy Claeys is the new linebackers coach at Virginia Tech, where he will be reunited with fellow former Gophers coach Jerry Kill.
Claeys had been the defensive coordinator at Washington State but resigned five games into the 2019 season, citing the team’s defensive struggles after the Cougars gave up 105 points over a two-game stretch.
“I’m excited to welcome Tracy to Blacksburg,” Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said in a statement announcing the hire Friday. “Tracy is an outstanding football coach who will serve as another great resource for me, [new defensive coordinator] Justin Hamilton and our entire coaching staff. Coach Claeys’ track record as a defensive coach, a recruiter and his longtime association with Jerry Kill were among on the many reasons we wanted him to join us at Virginia Tech. We’re enthusiastic about adding Tracy’s expertise and leadership to our team.”
Said Claeys: “I appreciate Coach Fuente offering me the opportunity to coach at Virginia Tech, a place where there has been such a great history of winning football. I’m eager to do everything I can to help Coach Fuente, Coach Hamilton and this staff build on the tradition of tough, hard-nosed football that coaches across the nation associate with Virginia Tech. I’m also excited to continue working with Jerry Kill, who is one of the finest football men I’ve ever been associated with in this game.”
Claeys had worked for Kill at five stops — Saginaw Valley State, Emporia State, Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois and finally the Gophers, where Kill was hired as coach in 2011. Claeys served as Kill’s defensive coordinator from 1999 at Emporia State through November 2015, when he became the Gophers coach after Kill retired for health reasons. Kill has since returned to coaching twice, leaving his job as Southern Illinois athletic director to become Virginia Tech’s special assistant to the head coach in September.
The Gophers fired Claeys following a 9-4 season in 2016, a season that included a sexual assault scandal involving multiple players; P.J. Fleck was hired to replace him. After a year away from coaching, Claeys joined coach Mike Leach’s staff at Washington in 2018. Claeys’ final game as Gophers coach was a 17-12 victory over Washington State in the 2016 Holiday Bowl.
Virginia Tech went 8-4 this season, finishing in second place to Virginia in the ACC’s Coastal Division after losing to the Cavaliers 39-30 on Nov. 29, the Hokies’ first loss to their rivals in 16 seasons. Virginia Tech will play Kentucky in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 31 in Charlotte, N.C.