I cannot adequately express just how much I love this photo (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Todd Graham hired his final assistant coach and the team will now have two coaches in the secondary.
That's a good thing.
Graham's final assistant is Randall McCray. He'll coach the safeties and special teams.
McCray was previous the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Middle Tennessee State. His defense last year had some success:
In his lone season at Middle Tennessee State, McCray helped the Blue Raiders earn a berth in the GoDaddy.com Bowl. His defense ranked 10th nationally in tackles for loss (7.38 TFLs/game) and 17th in quarterback sacks (2.62 sacks/game) while featuring the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year in end Jamari Lattimore. Among Sun Belt teams, MTSU yielded the lowest yards per rush and ranked second in pass efficiency defense.
One thing that immediately sticks out is that Pitt will now have a safeties coach and a cornerback coach. This is a switch in philosophy as Pitt relied on Jeff Hafley to coach the entire secondary under Dave Wannstedt. Frankly, I think this is a great move and one that could pay big dividends.
McCray previously coached linebackers, the defensive line, and safeties at Wisconsin, so he has experience at a major D-I program. He also has some big time recruiting experience as he was the recruiting coordinator there as well. And at Wisconsin, he coached several players now in the pros:
Five of McCray's Wisconsin players were on NFL rosters this past season, including All-Big Ten defensive lineman Matt Shaughnessy, a member of the Oakland Raiders and 2009 Pro Football Writers' All-Rookie selection. Additionally, linebacker DeAndre Levy (Detroit Lions), defensive tackle Nick Hayden (Carolina Panthers), linebacker Jonathan Casillas (New Orleans Saints) and safety Chris Maragos (San Francisco 49ers) were in the professional ranks.
Prior to that, he coached at several other smaller schools.
McCray goes into coachspeak mode and offers some standard quotes:
"My family and I are tremendously excited about joining an outstanding educational institution and historic football tradition like the University of Pittsburgh," McCray said. "Coach Todd Graham is a tremendous coach who values people and family, and we’re appreciative of him giving us this special opportunity. I’ve had the privilege of working with both Coach Graham and Paul Randolph before and I’m excited to renew those ties. I’m looking forward to getting to know the young men in the program and building a championship future on and off the field at Pitt."
And like I said earlier, Graham's focus is now on Spring football:
"With our coaching appointments now complete, we have turned our full-time attention to preparation for spring drills and the 2011 season," Graham continued. "While we’ve covered a lot of ground over the past month, we are still going to maintain a fast pace in the Pitt football offices in anticipation of hitting the practice field in another six weeks."
Six weeks away and counting.