James Shibest – Virginia Tech

FootballScoop is proud to announce that James Shibest is the 2017 FootballScoop Special Teams Coordinator of the Year presented by AstroTurf as selected by prior winners.

Frank Beamer is no longer Virginia Tech’s head coach, but a culture of great special teams has not left Blacksburg.

Virginia Tech ranked in the top 30 nationally in the four major special teams categories — punt and punt returns, and kickoff and kickoff returns. The Hokies placed 24th nationally with a 10.81-yard average on 37 returns with two touchdowns, making them one of 13 teams with multiple punt return scores. On the flip side, Virginia Tech yielded only 42 yards on 10 returns with no touchdowns, good for 17th in FBS.

Virginia Tech was also the best team in the country on kickoffs. The Hokies’ 64.25-yard average tied with Texas for the national lead, and their 80.28 percent touchback rate tied for third. On the rare occasion opponents did bring the ball out of the end zone, their returns averaged just 18.93 yards with no scores, placing the Hokies at 17th nationally. Virginia Tech’s kick return unit ranked eighth with a 25.4-yard average on 20 returns.

Virginia Tech’s coverage units were among the nation’s best in limiting big returns. Only one punt return went longer than 20 yards, and the Hokies were one of 13 teams to allow no more than one kickoff return longer than 30 yards. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech placed 15th nationally with four punt returns of 20 or more yards.

The Hokies also shared the national lead with six blocked kicked or punts, and led the country in opponent field goal percentage after surrendering five makes in 12 attempts.

Shibest has been a special teams coordinator at the FBS level every year since 2000. An Arkansas graduate, Shibest got his first special teams coordinator at the FBS level with his alma mater in 2000, where he remained through 2007. Shibest joined the Ole Miss staff in 2008 — he was named the first FootballScoop Special Teams Coordinator of the Year that season — and then joined Justin Fuente’s staff in 2012. Fuente brought Shibest with him to Blacksburg in 2016. Shibest’s first coaching job came as a graduate assistant at Oklahoma State in 1990, and he spent most of that decade in the Kansas junior college ranks, culminating in a 34-10 run with two NJCAA national championships at Butler County Community College from 1996-99.

Shibest also coaches the Hokies’ tight ends.

The FootballScoop Coaches of the Year awards presented by ProGrass are the only set of awards that recognize the most outstanding position coaches in college football. The finalists (Joe Lorig [Memphis], Joe Pannunzio [Alabama], Chris Partridge and Jay Harbaugh [Michigan] and Shibest) were selected based off of nominations by coaches, athletic directors, and athletic department personnel. The prior winners selected this year’s winner.

Shibest will receive his award and be recognized at an event at the AFCA Convention in January. He is the fourth two-time winner of the FootballScoop Coach of the Year award, joining Mark Helfrich, Kliff Kingsbury and fellow 2017 winner Josh Heupel.

In addition to Shibest, previous winners of the Special Teams Coordinator of the Year award are Mike Tolleson (Texas, 2009), Joe Robinson (LSU, 2010), John Baxter (USC, 2011), D.J. Durkin (Florida, 2012), Jeff Ulbrich (UCLA, 2013), Robby Discher (Oklahoma State, 2014), Sean Snyder (Kansas State, 2015) and Andre Powell (Pittsburgh, 2016).

keystats

1st Nationally – Kickoffs           1st Nationally – Opponent Field Goals
1st Nationally – Blocked Kicks           8th Nationally – Kickoff Returns

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National columnist - Zach joined the staff in 2012...and has been attempting to improve Doug and Scott's writing ability ever since (to little avail). Outside of football season, you can find him watching the San Antonio Spurs reading Game of Thrones fan theories.