Football: Ryan Smith reportedly hired as Northwestern’s cornerbacks coach


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Ryan Field, the home of Northwestern football. David Braun, who was previously named NU’s defensive coordinator, has been tapped as the football team’s interim head coach.

Drew Schott, Senior Staffer

Nearly three weeks after announcing a nationwide search for a cornerbacks coach, Northwestern has found its choice in Ryan Smith. 

According to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, Smith — the cornerbacks coach and defensive passing game coordinator at Virginia Tech — is headed to Evanston to lead the Wildcats’ cornerbacks. 

Smith’s decision to leave Blacksburg comes after the Hokies hired Penn State defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Brent Pry as head coach. Pry replaced Justin Fuente, who parted ways with Virginia Tech in November. 

Before coaching the Hokies’ cornerbacks, Smith led James Madison’s safeties and Elon’s secondary. He served as a graduate assistant at Penn State after playing three years at William and Mary. 

Smith’s hiring means that defensive backs coach Matt MacPherson will in all likelihood coach only safeties going forward. 

This is the second coaching change of NU’s offseason. Special teams coordinator Jeff Genyk added tight ends coach to his responsibilities following the retirement of Bob Heffner. 

NU’s defense gave up 29 points and 429.5 yards per game — marks that ranked 12th and 13th, respectively, in the Big Ten. But Smith will take over a talented cornerback room. 

Junior A.J. Hampton Jr. led the conference with 13 pass breakups in 2021 and sophomore Cameron Mitchell allowed the lowest completion percentage in the Big Ten during the Cats’ run to the Big Ten Championship Game in 2020. 

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