Memphis football coach Justin Fuente has been hired to become the next head coach at Virginia Tech, according to multiple reports. Fox 5 News anchor Brody Logan was the first to report the news.
Considered a young up-and-comer in college football coaching circles, the 39-year-old Fuente has transformed Memphis’ program from laughing stock to Top 25 contender over the last four years. After inheriting a team that went 2-10 in 2011, Fuente guided the Tigers to a 4-8 finish during his first season as a head coach in 2012. Memphis went 3-9 in 2013 but turned a corner the following year with a 10-3 record. The group ended up 9-3 in the regular season this fall.
Prior to becoming Memphis’ head coach, Fuente’s career has included stops as an assistant at Illinois State and TCU. While he was co-offensive coordinator at TCU from 2009-11, the Horned Frogs finished No. 28 nationally or better in total offense each year and twice ended up in the top 12 in the category.
A former quarterback, Fuente broke records at Oklahoma and Murray State during his playing career. He spent his last two years of eligbility with the Racers, and in 1999, he was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award.
As an offensive-minded coach, Fuente — who runs a spread offense — faces the challenge of improving a Virginia Tech program that finished 83rd or worse in total offense each of the last three years. This season will likely be the fourth in a row.
Fuente has also excelled in developing quarterbacks. At TCU, he coached Andy Dalton, who is in his fifth season as the Cincinnati Bengals’ starting quarterback after becoming a second-round NFL draft pick in 2011. This year, Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch is among the top signal-callers in the country and could be the first player at his position taken in the 2016 NFL draft should he leave early.
In addition to the hiring of Fuente, reports indicate that Virginia Tech will also retain defensive coordinator Bud Foster and running backs coach Shane Beamer.