35ºF

Tracy Claeys announces retirement, Virginia Tech promotes Jack Tyler as replacement

Fuente announces former All-ACC linebacker Jack Tyler has been promoted to the position.

Linebackers coach Tracy Claeys announces retirement
Linebackers coach Tracy Claeys announces retirement (WSLS)

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Head coach Justin Fuente confirmed on Wednesday that Tracy Claeys has informed him of his intention to retire. Virginia Tech marked the final stop of Claeys’ career in college football as he coached the Hokies’ linebackers in 2020 after joining the program in December 2019.

“On behalf of our entire football program, I want to thank Tracy Claeys for his contributions to our team,” Fuente said. “Even though he was only with us for a short time, Tracy made a lasting impact on our players and coaches. 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.”

“I’m very grateful that to have coached with Coach Fuente and his staff at a place like Virginia Tech,” Claeys said. “Certainly 2020 presented many challenges to all of us, but I couldn’t have asked for a better group of individuals to work with, especially my group of linebackers and the coaches in our defensive room. I’m going to miss coaching, but I’ll always have fond memories of my time in Blacksburg and will continue to value the many relationships I developed here. As I told Coach Fuente, while the time is right for me to step away from coaching, I’ll forever have a fond place in my heart for Virginia Tech.”

Claeys posted an 11-8 record with back-to-back bowl victories as head coach at Minnesota after taking over the program in November 2015. The Clay Center, Kansas native originally joined the Minnesota staff as defensive coordinator in 2011. He most recently served as defensive coordinator at Washington State. Prior to his stint at Minnesota, Claeys spent three seasons at Northern Illinois (2008-10), seven years at Southern Illinois (2001-07) and two campaigns at Emporia State (1999-2000), serving as defensive coordinator for all three schools. Claeys was a two-time finalist for the Broyles Award presented annually to the nation’s top assistant coach.

Head coach Justin Fuente also announced on Wednesday that he has promoted Jack Tyler to linebackers coach to fill the vacancy. Tyler had previously served the past two seasons as Tech’s defensive quality control coach.

BLACKSBURG, VA - SEPTEMBER 03:  Running back Orwin Smith #17 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets carries the ball as linebacker Jack Tyler #58 of the Virginia Tech Hokies attempts to make the tackle at Lane Stadium on September 3, 2012 in Blacksburg, Virginia.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
BLACKSBURG, VA - SEPTEMBER 03: Running back Orwin Smith #17 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets carries the ball as linebacker Jack Tyler #58 of the Virginia Tech Hokies attempts to make the tackle at Lane Stadium on September 3, 2012 in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images) (2012 Getty Images)

Tyler began his career at Virginia Tech as a walk-on linebacker before eventually earning a scholarship and developing into an All-ACC linebacker for the Hokies. A four-year letterwinner from 2010-13, the Oakton, Virginia native played in Tech’s 2010 ACC Championship Game win over Florida State and was part of squads that compiled 37 wins during his playing career, including a 4-0 mark against in-state rival, Virginia.

“Jack Tyler has earned this opportunity to take on a larger role with our team as our linebackers coach, “Fuente said. “Jack is a tireless worker who is passionate about the game and possesses a great love for Virginia Tech. During every step of his career, Jack has soaked up every ounce of knowledge about the game from his coaches and teammates. He’s a very mature individual who has gained the trust and respect of our coaching staff and our players. I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about the positive impact that I believe Jack will make in his new role with the Hokies.”  

“I’m beyond grateful to Coach Fuente for placing his faith in me,” Tyler said. “Even while I was still a student-athlete, my dream job was to someday coach the position I played at my alma mater. 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. I can’t thank Coach Fuente, Coach Foster, Coach Hamilton and the members of the current defensive staff, as well as Coach Claeys for entrusting me with more responsibilities over the years and serving as great mentors to me.”  

Tyler returned to his alma mater as a graduate assistant on defense for the 2017-18 campaigns before taking on a role as defensive quality control coach in 2019 and 2020. Last season, Tyler played an integral role for the Hokies as the availability of the coaching and playing roster often changed on a daily basis. 

The Virginia Player of the Year at Oakton High School as a senior in 2008, Tyler set a school record with 147 tackles before enrolling at Tech and redshirting in 2009. He went on to play in 54 games for the Hokies, finishing his career with 286 tackles (124 solo), 8.5 sacks and 32.5 tackles for loss. Tyler led Tech in tackles in both 2012 and 2013. He was a first-team All-ACC selection in 2012 and a second-team All-ACC pick in 2013.  

Tyler is one of seven former Virginia Tech players currently serving in full-time roles on Coach’s Fuente’s staff. Tyler is joined on the coaching staff by Justin Hamilton (defensive coordinator/safeties) and Darryl Tapp (co-defensive line). Other former Tech student-athletes associated with the program include Pierson Prioleau (director of player development – defense), Corey Fuller (asst. director of player personnel), Jeron Gouveia-Winslow (asst. director of player personnel) and Ryan Shuman (director of football strength & conditioning).