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At Virginia Tech, Brent Pry Intends to Compete in Recruiting With Penn State

'We're going to recruit our footprint,' Pry says of a region where Penn State has been successful.

Virginia Tech coach Brent Pry became emotional at points during his introductory press conference, notably when talking about Penn State coach James Franklin. The two spent the past 11 years together at Penn State and Vanderbilt, and Pry said he left State College knowing that he had Franklin's blessing.

"James is like a brother to me," Pry said. "I wasn't sure I'd ever step out and do my own thing, and it took this place to do it. It was the right time."

Pry leaves a void at Penn State, where he was the defensive coordinator for six seasons, and with Franklin, whom he has known since their two years together as coach-player at East Stroudsburg University in the 1990s. Franklin needs not only a new defensive coordinator but also a new confidant.

"I will forever be grateful for Brent's friendship, support and loyalty," Franklin said in a statement after Pry left for Virginia Tech.

Pry showed passion and clarity during his introduction Thursday. Here are some highlights from the press conference.

James Franklin knew how much Virginia Tech means to Pry

Pry has had multiple opportunities to leave Penn State for head-coaching positions but never one he found truly appealing.

“When you’re in a good place with good people, it’s hard to leave," Pry said. "I’m not going to say it was easy to leave Penn State, to leave James."

But Virginia Tech long has held a special appeal for Pry. After his two seasons at East Stroudsburg, Pry became a graduate assistant at Virginia Tech, where he spent two years working for Frank Beamer and Bud Foster. He described those years as formative, embedding Blacksburg into his coaching consciousness.

"He has been incredibly selective on the job front," Virginia Tech Athletic Director Whit Babcock said. "This was one that interested him. A lot of people know this is a great job, but for him, it was because it was this job. This job at Virginia Tech. That certainly stood out."

Pry said he wanted to play college football at Virginia Tech (he eventually landed at Buffalo) and sent 30 letters to the staff looking for a job. It took three years before he got noticed. 

"James has always known how I felt about Virginia Tech," Pry said. "... So I'm sure when this thing opened, it crossed his mind like it did mine."

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The timeline of Pry to Virginia Tech

Babcock said he first spoke with Pry via Zoom on Monday before Penn State played Michigan State. Monday is Penn State's off day during the season, and Babcock did so that day specifically to prevent interrupting Pry from his game-week preparation.

Babcock added that Pry and Virginia Tech baseball coach John Szefc have the same agent, which helped facilitate discussions. Babcock spoke with Franklin and Penn State Athletic Director Sandy Barbour during the process as well.

"Coach Franklin knew about it, and it was during an off day," Babcock said of his initial conversation with Pry. "We didn't want to interrupt from their big game."

Pry expects to deliver some recruiting competition in Virginia

Pry was asked what he learned about recruiting from Franklin.

"Details, details, details," Pry said. "When it comes to recruiting, he is relentless in the details. Following through, being thorough, building those relationships with the high school coach, trainer, parents, with the uncle, with the barber that cuts hair. It doesn't matter. So I think over 12 years with James, just his relentless effort on the recruiting front, being actively involved as a head coach. Very important."

Pry said he will turn that same approach loose on the DMV recruiting area, where Penn State has been so successful for the past two decades. 

"We're going to recruit our footprint," Pry said. "We're going to dive in with particular emphasis in the state of Virginia. Obviously, I know how good this state has been to Virginia Tech. I've had a ton of former players reach out to me in regards to that, and we're going to work our tails off to bring those Virginia kids to Blacksburg.

"We've had a little success doing that up in Happy Valley, so I think it ought to be easier to do that here."

Some details of Brent Pry's contract

Pry received a six-year contract worth just over $4.5 million per year, according to the term sheet released at the press conference. The Athletic's Andy Bitter shared the term sheet on Twitter.

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