The Collegian
Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Football coaching changes bring alumni back to the sideline

The national champion Richmond Spiders football team will take to the field next season with five alumni coaches following the recent appointments of Vic Shealy as defensive coordinator and Stacy Tutt as assistant coach.

Shealy, a 1984 graduate, and Tutt, a 2006 graduate, join head coach Mike London, assistant head coach Jeff Hanson and assistant coach Scott Burton as former Spiders on the staff. London also appointed Chris Stewart director of strength and conditioning following last month's departure of Brandon Hourigan.

Hourigan left for the University of Virginia football team as director of football training and player development. London said he anticipated other schools offering new employment opportunities to members of his staff following Richmond's increased presence in the national spotlight -- a welcomed byproduct of a NCAA Football Championship Subdivision championship last season.

"They see you on TV and they come knocking on your door," he said.

Shealy's coaching resume includes tenures as defensive coordinator at Austin Peay State University from 1993 to 1994 and at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas from 2005 to 2008. He also served as head coach at Azusa Pacific University from 1995 to 1998, where he won a NAIA championship and coach of the year honors in 1998. He succeeds Russ Huesman, who left Richmond last December after a five-year stint as defensive coordinator to become head football coach at his alma mater, the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.

Shealy's last name resonates on this campus. His father, Dal, served as head coach of the football team from 1980 to 1988, during which London played as a defensive back and was the team captain. Shealy's brother also played wide receiver for five years at Richmond. Shealy graduated from Richmond in 1984, and brings with him a distinct perspective as a coach returning to his alma mater.

"You bring back an unmistakable appreciation for the opportunity the players have," he said.

Last year, the football team answered when opportunity knocked, winning a national championship. Shealy said the coming season's goal would be to win another championship, but the team would have to keep in mind that the line-up had changed, he said. Other teams will be eager to defeat the Spiders, he said, and the players must be prepared for the challenges that this year would bring.

Shealy doesn't anticipate significant changes to the defensive schemes next season, but does hope to integrate plays that would put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Last season, because of consistent pressure from defensive ends Sherman Logan and Lawrence Sidbury Jr., formal blitz packages weren't entirely necessary. With their departures next season, Shealy would like to incorporate more blitzes into the playbook, he said.

Shealy expressed his desire to become a mentor to his players beyond his duties as a coach. He said relationships with players and non-players alike were important to him and said he wanted to be involved in the campus community. He encouraged students to take advantage of the academic, social and athletic opportunities that the university provided.

"Students should wake up each morning and enjoy being at a place like Richmond," he said.

Tutt, a pre-eminent quarterback during his time at Richmond, led the Spiders to a 2005 Atlantic 10 Conference championship and remains near the top of many school records. He threw for 5,318 yards (fourth all-time) and accumulated 6,872 yards of total offense (third all-time) during his time at Richmond. Tutt then spent two years in the NFL as a fullback and special teams player with the New York Jets before being released in April 2008 following knee and shoulder surgeries.

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Despite initial disappointment following his release, Tutt said he was grateful for the opportunity London had offered him.

London said the decision to bring Tutt onboard as an assistant coach and tight-end coach had been a "no-brainer" because of the reciprocal relationship he expected Tutt to share with players, who would be able to hear the voice of someone who could speak from experience at the highest level and who could relate to players attending Richmond. He also praised the level of respect Tutt earned on and off the field during his time at Richmond.

Tutt also brings a sense of familiarity to the team as some of the players, including quarterback Eric Ward, were here during Tutt's tenure with the team, London said.

Tutt said he had never envisioned himself coaching because of the time commitment it required. Having seen coaches away from their families for long periods of time, Tutt, who will be married in July, didn't want to be separated from his own family, he said. But he is excited about the coming season, especially many of the technical aspects of coaching.

Tutt's role on the coaching staff will be important because the team's two primary tight ends -- Joe Stewart and Joe Monteverde -- have graduated. In addition to integrating new tight ends into the offense, Tutt will also work with other positions, he said.

Chris Stewart, who spent the last 11 years coaching at the University of Tennessee, brings with him to Richmond an impressive record that includes training Olympic athletes. His work should benefit all Richmond athletes, not just football players, London said.

As is the case with any winning program, London expects turnover in the coaching staff for years to come. If the Spiders continue to win, London is prepared to replace coaches if necessary.

"You want to keep the format intact as much as possible, but also add to the value of the team," he said.

Time will tell if more Richmond alumni are added to the coaching staff, but for now, Tutt is content with the present makeup of the staff.

"It feels like family, even though we're actually from different generations," he said.

Collegian staff writers Dan Petty and Emily Baltz contributed reporting for this story.

Contact reporter Jimmy Young at jimmy.young@richmond.edu

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