Curt Cignetti knows it’s the reality of his job.

“People like to hire coaches from winning programs,” the James Madison coach said Tuesday.

No two assistants are departing the Dukes’ staff, according to Cignetti.

JMU safeties coach Ryan Smith is leaving for Virginia Tech and Dukes defensive tackles coach Andrew Jackson is heading to Old Dominion.

Later Tuesday, Virginia Tech confirmed the Daily News-Record’s initial report, announcing the hire of Smith as the school’s new cornerbacks coach.

Both Smith and Jackson were with the Dukes for one season and helped the program to a 14-2 finish, along with a national championship game appearance.

Smith worked with safeties Adam Smith and D’Angelo Amos. Adam Smith and Amos were first-team All-Colonial Athletic Association selections. Jackson coached defensive tackle Mike Greene, a third-team All-CAA choice.

Jackson is joining first-year Old Dominion coach Ricky Rahne, who was an assistant at Penn State for the last six years. Jackson was a Penn State graduate assistant from 2015 through 2016. Ryan Smith will team up with Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente, who begins his fifth season as coach of the Hokies.

“We’re excited to add another talented coach to our staff in Ryan Smith,” Fuente said in a press release.

Both Smith and Jackson were on one-year, $65,000 contracts in their lone year with the Dukes.

Cignetti just completed his first season with JMU, which lost to North Dakota State 28-20 on Saturday in the FCS title game in Frisco, Texas. He spent the previous two seasons at Elon, where Smith worked both seasons for Cignetti.

Smith played his college ball at William & Mary, and like Jackson, had a two-year stint at Penn State as a graduate assistant.

“As a collegiate player he was groomed for a future in our profession by head coach Jimmye Laycock at William & Mary,” Fuente said of Smith. “He played the cornerback position for Coach Laycock and he was born and raised in Virginia. Ryan has grown at each stop of his coaching career and he’s earned the opportunity to join us at Virginia Tech.”

ODU is a member of Conference USA while Virginia Tech is in the ACC.

Contact Greg Madia at 574-6296 or

Follow Greg on Twitter: @Madia_DNRSports

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.