Jim Cavanaugh

  • Jim
  • Cavanaugh

  • Director of Recruiting &
    High School Relations

Jim Cavanaugh, who has played a major role in Virginia Tech’s success since joining Frank Beamer’s coaching staff in 1996, continues in his position on the staff as the director of recruiting and high school relations. The change came after 15 seasons as the Hokies’ strong safety and outside linebackers coach and his nine years as Tech’s recruiting coordinator.

Born: Born: 8/4/48, Queens, N.Y.
Hometown: Queens, N.Y.
Wife: former Marsha Carnell
Children: Ryan, Lauren

High School: High School: Chaminade High School (1966)
College: The College of William & Mary (1970)

Playing Experience
William & Mary (1967-69)

Coaching and Administrative Experience
1970Newport News (Va.) High School
1971Denbigh (Va.) High School
1972-73NC State (graduate assistant)
1974-75VMI (receivers)
1976VMI (running backs)
1977-78NC State (receivers)
1979-80Marshall (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks)
1981Virginia (receivers)
1982-86Maryland (running backs)
1987Maryland (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks)
1988-95North Carolina (receivers)
1996-01Virginia Tech (strong safety, outside linebackers)
2002-10Virginia Tech (recruiting coordinator/strong safety, outside linebackers)
2011-Virginia Tech (director of recruiting and high school relations)

No one has been more instrumental in bringing top-notch talent to the Tech program than Cavanaugh. He was named the No. 2 recruiting coordinator in the country in January, 2010 by Sporting News and, over a 13-year span, 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. In his first year in his new role, he helped Tech sign five prep All-Americans.

Along with his success in attracting talent, Cavanaugh was instrumental in helping players develop their talent once they joined the Tech program. During his first season on the job, in 1996, outside linebacker Brandon Semones led the team in tackles and earned second-team All-BIG EAST honors.

Cavanaugh also helped in the development of highly successful players, such as Pierson Prioleau, Cory Bird, Kevin McCadam, James Anderson, Cody Grimm and Aaron Rouse. Prioleau was a third-team All-America pick by The Sporting News in 1997 and is still playing in the NFL. Grimm went from walk-on to All-American under Cavanaugh and was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, starting several games for them last season. 

McCadam was a fifth-round NFL selection by the Atlanta Falcons in 2002. Anderson, a two-year starter at whip linebacker, was a third-round NFL draft pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2005 and had a breakout year last season, while Rouse was drafted in the third round by the Green Bay Packers in 2007.

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, he is a veteran of 41 years coaching, including 37 as a full-time coach on the collegiate level. He has worked at two other Virginia schools – VMI and the University of Virginia – during his career and has been on the staff of five ACC schools – NC State, UVa, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia Tech.

Cavanaugh coached at the University of North Carolina for eight years, and from 1982 through 1987, he worked under Bobby Ross and Joe Krivak at Maryland. He served two years at North Carolina State, three years under coach Bob Thalman at VMI, one year at Virginia and two years at Marshall. Cavanaugh began his collegiate coaching career as a graduate assistant at NC State in 1972. He has been a part of 11 conference championships and has been associated with four Hall of Fame Coaches (played for Marv Levy at W&M; coached with Lou Holtz at NCSU; coached with Ross at Maryland; and coached with Thalman at VMI).

During his years as a receiver at William & Mary, Cavanaugh surpassed the Tribe’s career record in receiving with 117 catches and over 1,600 yards. He also earned honorable mention All-America honors in 1967 and was co-captain of his team in 1969. Cavanaugh was inducted into the William & Mary Sports Hall of Fame in April 2001.

Married to the former Marsha Carnell, he has two children – Ryan, who has worked in the NFL, and Lauren, who graduated from Tech in 2002. 

Ryan and his wife, the former Melissa Searls, have two daughters, Mallory and Samantha, while Lauren and her husband, Rob Reddick, have three children, Matthew, Marshall and Mille.