Virginia Cavaliers Coaching Staff 2023

    Tony Elliot begins his second season as the head coach of the Virginia Cavaliers after a difficult 2022 season on and off the field. His coaching staff will look to improve from a 3-7 record to inspire hope in Charlottesville.

    Virginia Cavaliers Coaching Staff

    Head Coach, Tony Elliot

    Tony Elliot joined the University of Virginia as the head football coach for the 2022 season. He was previously at Clemson for 11 seasons, serving most recently as an assistant head coach and offensive coordinator. He also spent time as the co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach.

    Elliot was running backs coach during Travis Etienne’s time at Clemson and was co-offensive coordinator during Trevor Lawrence’s college career.

    During his career as a wide receiver at Clemson, Elliot was selected to the Academic All-ACC first-team. He continues to value academics to this day — his desire to work with a university that had “world-class academics” and develop a holistic student-athlete were his reasons for taking the Virginia head coaching job.

    • SC State (Wide Receivers Coach, 2006-2007)
    • Furman (Wide Receivers Coach, 2008-2010)
    • Clemson (Running Backs Coach, 2011-2014)
    • Clemson (Co-Offensive Coordinator & Running Backs, 2015-2021)
    • Clemson (Offensive Coordinator & Tight Ends, 2021)

    Defensive Coordinator/ Defensive Backs, John Rudzinski

    John Rudzinski led a defense that finished top five in the ACC in pass defense, sacks per game, and passing efficiency during the 2022 season. Prior to that, he was the defensive coordinator for the Air Force Falcons.

    The 2020 Air Force defense finished third nationally in scoring defense, allowing only 15.0 points per game — the best during Rudzinski’s tenure as the Falcons’ defensive coordinator. From 2012 to 2014, he served as the recruiting coordinator. The recruits from those seasons would win two bowl games and two Commander-in-Chief trophies.

    • Air Force (Defensive Assistant, 2010-2011)
    • Air Force (Outside Linebackers and Recruiting Coordinator, 2012-2013)
    • Air Force (Defensive Backs and Recruiting Coordinator, 2014)
    • Air Force (Defensive Backs, 2015-2017)
    • Air Force (Defensive Coordinator and Defensive Backs, 2018-2021)

    Offensive Coordinator/ Tight Ends, Des Kitchings

    Des Kitchings won the 2022 ACC R2SportsTech’s Graphite Award, given to the most efficient offensive play-caller in the league who aligns their team’s strengths to their opponent’s weaknesses.

    Prior to his role at Virginia, Kitchings spent time at North Carolina State, where he was able to generate success in the running game. The Wolfpack was able to produce three straight 1000-yard rushers from 2016-2018, while Kitchings was the assistant head coach for offense.

    • Furman (Tight Ends and Special Teams Coordinator, 2004-2007)
    • Vanderbilt (Running Backs and Special Teams Coordinator, 2008-2009)
    • Vanderbilt (Co-Offensive Coordinator and Running Backs, 2010)
    • Air Force (Running Backs, 2011)
    • NC State (Running Backs and Tight Ends, 2012)
    • NC State (Running Backs, 2013-2015)
    • NC State (Co-Offensive Coordinator and Running Backs, 2016-2018)
    • South Carolina (Running Backs, 2020)
    • Atlanta Falcons (Running Backs, 2021)

    Special Teams Coordinator/ Running Backs, Keith Gaither

    Keith Gaither was a four-year starter at defensive back for Elon. In 2022, he helped coach punter Daniel Sparks to an All-ACC selection.

    He previously spent two stents as the Wide Receivers coach at Army and has experience coaching defensive backs. Virginia is his first job as a special teams coordinator or running backs coach.

    • Greensboro (Defensive Backs, 1997)
    • Tusculum (Defensive Backs, 1998-1999)
    • Thomasville High School in North Carolina (Assistant, 2000-2004)
    • Winston-Salem State (Defensive Backs, 2005-2008)
    • Elon (Wide Receivers, 2009-2010)
    • Ball State (Wide Receivers, 2011-2014)
    • Army (Wide Receivers, 2015-2016)
    • East Carolina (Passing Game Coordinator and Wide Receivers, 2017-2018)
    • Western Michigan (Wide Receivers, 2019)
    • Army (Wide Receivers, 2020-2021)

    Defensive Passing Game Coordinator/ Defensive Backs, Curome Cox

    Curome Cox followed defensive coordinator John Rudzinski to Virginia from Air Force, where he served as the defensive backs coach for two seasons. He previously coached at Connecticut after coaching at Coastal Carolina when they were an FCS program.

    Cox played defensive back at Maryland and spent three years in the NFL playing for the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans.

    Defensive Tackles, Kevin Downing

    Kevin Downing spent three seasons as an assistant coach over the defensive ends and outside linebackers at Navy and helped improve their defense prior to joining the Virginia staff. Before that, he coached at Kennesaw State as defensive ends coach.

    Downing played at NC Central in 2001 and 2002.

    Defensive Ends, Chris Slade

    Slade is a Virginia football alum, who was the first Cavalier to receive First-Team All-America honors twice in a career. He would later be selected in the second round of the NFL draft. There, he spent nine seasons at the Pace Academy in Atlanta, GA prior to returning to Virginia.

    Linebackers, Clint Sintim

    Clint Sintim has been part of Virginia’s coaching staff for four seasons. He was previously the defensive line coach, but he switched to linebackers when Tony Elliot took over.

    Sintim played four seasons at Virginia and was team captain his senior year. He was taken in the second round of the NFL draft by the New York Giants before a knee injury ended his playing career.

    Quarterbacks, Taylor Lamb

    Taylor Lamb was Gardner-Webb’s quarterbacks coach in 2020 and 2021, along with being offensive coordinator in 2021. He played quarterback at Appalachian State, where he broke the record for career touchdown passes with 90.

    Offensive Line, Terry Heffernan

    Heffernan is a a new hire for the 2023 season after spending time as offensive line coach at Stanford. Heffernan has five seasons of NFL coaching experience with the Bills and Lions, along with 14 years of college coaching experience.

    Wide Receivers, Adam Mims

    Adam Mims was a return specialist and wide receiver at Furman during Tony Elliot’s tenure as wide receivers coach. Last season, he was a senior offensive analyst, but he was promoted to wide receivers coach for this season.

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