The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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January 16, 2013

WVU officially hires Tony Gibson to coach safeties

BECKLEY — It wasn’t exactly breaking news, but West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen officially announced the news that Mountaineer fans have known for more than a week Wednesday when he announded that Tony Gibson will join the WVU coaching staff to lead the Mountaineer safeties.

“Tony certainly has built a reputation as an outstanding recruiter and is nationally known for his ability,” said Holgorsen in a release sent out by the university. “Being a native West Virginian and having already coached here at the University and successfully recruited western Pennsylvania for many years, he brings a familiarity that will be an asset to our program. He worked with (WVU defensive coordinator) Keith (Patterson) at Pitt two years ago, so he already is well-versed with his defensive philosophy. So that should help make for a smooth transition.”

Gibson spent last season as the assistant head coach, safeties coach and defensive special teams’ coordinator at Arizona for the past year under former WVU head coach Rich Rodriguez.

Gibson first met Rodriguez when he played defensive back for him at Glenville State, and he began his coaching career there under Rodriguez is 1996.

Rodriguez and Gibson reunited with Rodriguez was hired by the Mountaineers in 2001, and Gibson coached defensive backs at WVU from 2001 until 2007. He was the recruiting coordinator that final year in Morgantown.

Gibson left with Rodriguez when the head coach bolted for Michigan, and he served as the assistant head coach and defensive backs coach for the Wolverines for three seasons before Rodriguez was fired.

Pitt gave Gibson a shot in 2011. He served as the secondary coach and defensive coordinator there under Todd Graham.

When Rodriguez was hired at Arizona, though, Gibson rejoined his old boss, and he spent one season in the desert before Holgorsen gave him the opportunity to return to the Mountain State.

“Being a West Virginia native, I am happy to be back in my home state,” said Gibson. “West Virginia football means a lot to me and my family. I look forward to working with Coach Holgorsen and being reunited on the defensive side of the ball with Coach Paterson. I also look forward to being a part of the future of this program and advancing what I helped start years ago.”

WVU had announced the hiring of Brian Mitchell on Tuesday. The former East Carolina defensive coordinator will coach the Mountaineer cornerbacks.

The two hires fill the two vacancies on the defensive side of the ball after cornerbacks coach Daron Roberts and safeties coach Steve Dunlap were fired following the season.

WVU still has an offensive hole to fill after quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital left to take a similar position at Texas A&M.

Sources have said that former wide receivers coach Lonnie Galloway will be returning to Morgantown to coach the receivers, with offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, who coached the receivers this past season, taking over the quarterback dutiies. That hire, though, has not been made official.

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WVU senior wide receiver Tavon Austin has another honor to add to his resume after he was named the 2012 Jet Award Return Specialist winner on Wednesday.

In its second year, the award honors the best return specialist in college football and draws its name from former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny “The Jet” Rodgers. It is voted on by a selection committee featuring football writers and broadcasters from around the country.

Austin finished second in the country in all-purpose running, averaging more than 220 yards per game combining rushing, receiving, punt return and kick return yards.

— E-mail: and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

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