WASHINGTON — The Redskins have hired Torrian Gray as their new defensive backs coach, according to two sources with knowledge of the move.
Gray, 42, replaces Perry Fewell, who was fired after the season. He was most recently the defensive backs coach at the University of Florida and prior to that spent a decade in the same position at Virginia Tech. The website SECCountry.com first reported the hiring on Saturday afternoon.
Washington coach Jay Gruden is inching closer to finalizing his coaching staff after a tumultuous offseason. He lost offensive coordinator Sean McVay, who is now the Los Angeles Rams’ head coach. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry was fired along with Fewell and defensive line coach Robb Akey.
Greg Manusky was promoted to defensive coordinator. Kirk Olivadotti remains the inside linebackers coach. Jim Tomsula, a longtime assistant in San Francisco and the 49ers head coach for one year in 2015, is the new defensive line coach.
Gruden promoted Matt Cavanaugh to offensive coordinator and hired Kevin O’Connell as the quarterbacks coach. Bill Callahan (offensive line), Wes Phillips (tight ends), Randy Jordan (running backs), Ben Kotwica (special teams) and Ike Hilliard (wide receivers) remain on staff. Kotwica lost his own assistant when Brad Banfa took a promotion with the New Orleans Saints as their special teams coordinator.
McVay also poached two former Redskins assistant: Shane Waldron moves up from offensive quality control coach in Washington to tight ends coach with the Rams. And Aubrey Pleasant, the well-regarded assistant defensive backs coach, couldn’t come to an agreement with the team and also joined McVay in Los Angeles in a role yet to be determined, according to a source.
That’s a lot of turnover. Washington might not replace Manusky as outside linebackers coach. Gruden said Manusky would like to remain in that capacity along with his added duties. The could replace Pleasant as assistant defensive backs coach or leave that position vacant. It’s unlikely both that spot and outside linebackers would remain open.
Last month the Redskins fired Mike Clark, the strength and conditioning coach, and promoted his top lieutenant, Chad Englehart. Kavan Latham, formerly of the New York Jets, is the new assistant strength and condition coach.
That’s a lot of turnover as Gruden enters his fourth year with a 21-26-1 record with one NFC East title and a playoff berth. Manusky is his third defensive coordinator in four years.
Gray has a long track record in college and the pros. He coached Redskins cornerback Kendall Fuller in the secondary at Virginia Tech and will be tasked with developing the 2016 third-round pick. Fuller was a second-team All-American with the Hokies as a sophomore, but a knee injury in 2015 ended his junior season after just three games.
Former Redskins safety Kyshoen Jarrett, a sixth-round pick in 2015, had a nice rookie season before a devastating nerve injury halted his career. Jarrett also played cornerback under Gray at Virginia Tech.
Two of Gray’s players at Florida are considered first-round picks in the upcoming NFL Draft. Cornerbacks Jalen “Teez” Tabor and Quincy Wilson – both juniors who declared for the draft – are rated highly by most draft analysts. Gators safety Marcus Maye also had a nice senior safety. Tabor is a District native and played high school football at Friendship Collegiate.
Gray was a second-round draft pick in 1996 by the Minnesota Vikings after a brilliant career at Virginia Tech. His pro career quickly faltered, but he moved on to coaching with college stops at Maine and Connecticut. Gray earned a pro job with the Chicago Bears under head coach Lovie Smith in 2004 and 2005. Ironically, Gray was the assistant defensive backs coach under Fewell – the man he replaces.
A source with knowledge of the coaching search confirmed that Washington also interviewed Tim Lewis and Chris Harris for the spot – though there could be other candidates who interviewed. Harris played eight years in the NFL at safety and was the Chargers assistant defensive backs coach in 2016. Lewis was out of the NFL last season, but in 2015 coached the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive backs and had previous stints with Carolina, Seattle and Atlanta in that same job.
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