BLACKSBURG - Virginia Tech head football coach Frank Beamer announced more changes to his staff Wednesday, elevating Jim Cavanaugh to the administrative position of director of recruiting and high school relations. Beamer also announced that former Tech All-American and Tech Sports Hall of Fame member Cornell Brown would assume Cavanaugh’s spot on the coaching staff to work with the Hokies’ outside linebackers and help out with the defensive line.
Earlier in the week, Beamer named long-time assistant Billy Hite as Tech’s assistant to the head coach and senior advisor and added Shane Beamer, another former Hokie, to his coaching staff.
Cavanaugh has played a major role in Virginia Tech’s success since joining Beamer’s coaching staff in 1996. He has worked the past 15 seasons as the Hokies’ strong safety and outside linebackers coach and has also served as Tech’s recruiting coordinator during the past nine years.
“Jim Cavanaugh is the most capable, hard-working recruiter that I know,” Beamer said. “Under his direction, I expect us to be even more successful and efficient as a staff. I think sharing his expertise and knowledge can help us be the very best that we can be.”
No one has been more instrumental in bringing top-notch talent to the Tech program than Cavanaugh. He was ranked the second best recruiting coordinator in the nation this past season by Sporting News and the fourth best nationally by ESPN The Magazine. Over the past 13 years, his recruiting skills have helped the Hokies attract, among others, prep All-Americans Michael Vick, Nathaniel Adibi, Victor Harris, D.J. Coles, Bryan Randall, Jonathan Lewis, Marcus Vick, Mark Shuman, Xavier Adibi, Dyrell Roberts, Chris Ellis and Corey Marshall.
Along with his success in attracting talent, Cavanaugh also has been instrumental in helping players develop their talent once they join the Tech program. He has helped in the development of highly successful players, such as Pierson Prioleau, Cory Bird, Kevin McCadam, James Anderson, Cody Grimm and Aaron Rouse.
Tech’s appearance in the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl marked Cavanaugh’s 27th postseason game as a coach and 19th in a row. A former star receiver at William & Mary and a 2001 inductee into the W&M Sports Hall of Fame, he is a veteran of 41 years coaching, including 37 as a full-time coach on the collegiate level. He has been a part of 11 conference championships.
“I would like to thank Coach Frank Beamer for the opportunity to coach at Virginia Tech the last 15 years,” Cavanaugh said. “I will always be indebted to Billy Hite and Ralph Friedgen for recommending me to Coach Beamer.
“Coach Beamer has asked me to come off the field and the road to become director of recruiting and high school relations. Having coached for 41 years, I do believe I have experience in these areas. I will rely on John Ballein’s expertise as an administrator to help me through any new learning situations I encounter.
“I look forward to overseeing the entire recruiting process at Virginia Tech, and to mentoring our new coaches,” Cavanaugh added. “Together we can continue our success both on and off the field.”
Brown, who was inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 2007, comes to the Hokies from the Canadian Football League where he served as the defensive line coach for the Calgary Stampeders the past three seasons. Calgary’s defense was ranked the best in the CFL in rushing and scoring defense on the way to the Grey Cup Championship in Brown’s first season (2008). The Stampeders reached the conference semifinal game each of the past two seasons, and three of Brown’s four starting defensive linemen were named Western Division all-stars in 2010.
“I’ve always said that Cornell was the recruit who got us going because he was an instate recruit that could go anywhere in the country,” Beamer said. “He chose Virginia Tech at a time when our record wasn’t very successful, and I really felt that a lot of recruits said, ‘he chose Virginia Tech, I need to look at it’.
“I think we are fortunate to bring back a great player that meant so much to Virginia Tech. Cornell had great success here and now wants to help us have more success. He has been here as a GA … he’s been around our defense. He also has a lot of good experience from working in the CFL. I think his experiences will be a great asset to our program.”
The Lynchburg, Va., native joined the coaching ranks in 2005 as a coaching assistant working with linebackers for the Cologne Centurions in the NFL-Europe League. Brown became a full time defensive line coach for the Frankfurt Galaxy the following year and helped the team to back-to-back World Bowl appearances, winning the league title in 2006. While coaching the defensive line, he helped develop free-agent tackle Remi Ayodele of the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints.
NFL-Europe’s schedule allowed Brown to also work as a graduate assistant coach at Virginia Tech during the Hokies’ 2006 and 2007 seasons. He helped develop defensive units that led the nation in total defense and scoring defense in ’06 and were ranked third and fourth, respectively, in those categories in 2007. He had a helping hand in developing draft choices Chris Ellis, Carlton Powell and Jason Worilds.
Brown attended Virginia Tech and played defensive end from 1993 through 1996, helping the Hokies to a bowl game each season. He earned consensus All-America honors and was named the National Defensive Player of the Year by Football News as a junior in 1995. He gained All-America recognition again as a senior despite missing three games. A sixth-round draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens, Brown played seven seasons in the NFL and was a member of the Ravens’ Super Bowl XXXV championship team.
“I’ve had a lot of great days and great experiences at Virginia Tech, but this is the biggest day and biggest accomplishment to date for me,” Brown said. “It’s extremely exciting to be able to say I’m a part of this program as a coach and will be able to help carry on the legacy that coach Beamer and this staff have built. It is just a great honor and privilege to say I’m coming home to help build on a great tradition.”
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