The Redskins' new defensive backs coach says he will coach intensely and make sure that his unit is sound on techniques and communicates properly.
Redskins defensive backs coach Torrian Gray admitted Thursday on "Redskins Nation" that he received some help in securing his new job this week, and it came from some of his former student-athletes.
Gray, who spent 10 years as a defensive backs coach at Virginia Tech, said Kyshoen Jarrett and Kendall Fuller, former Hokie defensive backs drafted by the Redskins in the last two years, put in a good word to head coach Jay Gruden and team President Bruce Allen on his behalf. And then Gray received a phone call.
"It was surreal a little bit, and 'wow they reached out to me,'" Gray said. "It's everyone's dream to be able to coach football and having the opportunity to coach at Virginia Tech, Florida, and now to be able to coach in the highest level with the Redskins is extremely exciting."
The Lakewood, Fla., native received a scholarship to play safety at Virginia Tech, where he was a three-time all-Big East selection. His teams would win two Big East championships, eventually upsetting the Texas Longhorns in the 1995 Sugar Bowl.
The Minnesota Vikings drafted him 49th overall in 1997, but a year later Gray dislocated his kneecap, an injury that forced him out of the game.
He took up coaching instead, beginning at the University of Maine, then spending two years at the University of Connecticut before getting some experience as a defensive assistant with the Chicago Bears. The next 10 years were spent at his alma mater before he took an opportunity to coach defensive backs at the University of Florida in 2016.
While Gray will spend the next month familiarizing himself with the roster – learning how the defensive backs worked together during cornerback Josh Norman's first year and a heavy rotation of safeties – he has, at least, been able to keep up with the team by listening to sports radio in Northern Virginia throughout the last several years.
"I'll try and be intense. Coach with a certain kind of demeanor and hope that your players take that from you," Gray said of his coaching style. "I want guys to be able to understand the game, have techniques fundamentally sound, and understand the game mentally. To know formations, down and distance, splits, and things of that nature. We got to be able to communicate well as a whole unit from the safeties to the corners and just to be big on all those kind of details."
Communication has been something that defensive coordinator Greg Manusky has stressed in describing how the team's defense will improve from last year. Gray believes his demeanor will be a positive and fall right in line with his.
"[Manusky's] got a big personality you can tell while just getting to know him a little bit," Gray said. "Seems like a guy who is really going to be able to take the spirits of the guys, motivate them, and try to lead them."