June is not the opportune time to hire an assistant football coach. That's the only certainty here. Yet, because of Galen Scott's unexpected resignation in April, that's exactly what Justin Fuente did. Virginia Tech announced Tyrone Nix as safeties coach on Thursday.
Within reason, Fuente had a few different ways to play the rags dealt to him. He could have promoted within (Justin Hamilton), rolled with Hamilton in an interim role until after the season once a larger and more approachable talent pool existed, or poached an up-and-comer from the Group of Five. Instead, Fuente hired a veteran coach and Broyles Award finalist. On top of that, Nix adds an outside perspective to the staff and has defensive coordinator experience, in the SEC nonetheless.
"Bud [Foster] and I both knew we wanted an experienced defensive coach and proven recruiter to fill this position on our staff," Fuente said in a release. "We will get that and much more with Tyrone Nix. We're excited about his proven track record as a coach who can evaluate and develop talent. Just as importantly, we are always looking for individuals who can bring new ideas and concepts to our staff as we continually strive to evolve."
Nix isn't a splash hire. And that's mostly because his career has trended down. He went from (co-)defensive coordinator at South Carolina and then Ole Miss, to (co-)defensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee State, before finally serving as a senior defensive analyst for Texas A&M until now. Flip that around and it's an exciting (and then unrealistic) get.
Yet, regardless of whether it's flashy or not, Nix may prove to be very solid in the role. Can he develop and recruit talent? That's the only question that matters.
Fuente didn't hire him as a defensive coordinator, or even co-defensive coordinator (a distinguishment bestowed to Scott this offseason), rather as a safeties coach. (Sidebar: Nix has extensive experience coaching box defenders, but according to the Tech release and Wikipedia, only coached defensive backs for one season.) Fuente's seemingly banking on his years around the block to translate regardless of what position he's tasked to coach.
Nix brings southeast and JUCO recruiting relationships to the table. However, there isn't evidence of mid-Atlantic ties which Tech has thrived on. He's landed three, 4-star 247Sports Composite recruits throughout his career, and two were JUCO prospects.
Overall, there's plenty of reason for both optimism and skepticism here. Ultimately, time will judge the decision.