Joe Speed is in his ninth season as an assistant coach at Georgia Tech. A versatile defensive coach and former captain in the United States Marine Corps, Speed came to The Flats in 2010 as inside linebackers coach, switched to the outside linebackers midway through the 2012 season, moved to the secondary in 2013 and took over as cornerbacks coach prior to the 2016 campaign.
Over the last two seasons, Speed’s starting cornerbacks, Lance Austin and Step Durham, combined for 154 tackles and 32 passes defended. Austin was particularly impressive as a junior in 2016, when he led the ACC and finished tied for 15th nationally with 15 passes defended (including a team-high-tying three interceptions). He was named ACC Defensive Back of the Week in back-to-back weeks to close the regular season, the latter of the two accolades coming after he intercepted a pass near midfield to set up the game-winning touchdown drive in Georgia Tech’s 28-27 win over archrival Georgia.
In four seasons since moving to the secondary, Speed’s pupils have recorded 33 interceptions and scored five touchdowns. In 2014 alone, his secondary racked up 15 touchdowns and scored three times.
Additionally, Speed has mentored three all-ACC honorees and five student-athletes that have gone on to play in the NFL during his tenure at Tech, including Durham, who signed as a rookie free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018.
Other highlights from Speed’s time at Georgia Tech include:
• coaching a pair of all-conference selections in 2014, Jamal Golden (third team) and D.J. White (honorable mention), as well as the Yellow Jackets’ all-time
leading tackler in the secondary, Isaiah Johnson (283 career tackles);
• plugging senior Jemea Thomas into the starting lineup at safety in 2013 due to injuries to projected starters Golden and Johnson and watching Thomas lead the Yellow Jackets in tackles (88) and pass breakups (8), paving the way for his ascension from likely backup to a sixth-round pick by the New England Patriots in the 2014 NFL Draft;
• overseeing the emergence of inside linebacker Julian Burnett from a backup in the first month of 2010 to one of the most prolific tacklers in recent Georgia Tech history. Burnett led the team in tackles in both 2010 (89) and 2011 (120). His 120 stops in ‘11 were 42 more than anyone else on the squad.
• having his starting inside linebackers, Burnett and Brad Jefferson, rank one-two on the squad with a combined 173 tackles in 2010.
Speed came to Georgia Tech from his alma mater, the U.S. Naval Academy, where he served two stints as a football coach, totaling eight years (2000-03, 2006-09).
In his first stint with the Midshipmen, along with being assistant linebackers coach and head junior varsity coach, he also served as the executive administrator and military liaison officer for the football program, a role that included supervision of various administrative, logistical and professional matters pertaining to the football team and the Naval Academy Athletic Association. He was responsible for recruiting future Marine officers to the academy, as well.
Paul Johnson took over as Navy’s head coach two years into Speed’s initial four-year stint with the program and Speed helped guide the Midshipmen to an impressive 8-5 record, its first Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy in 22 years and its first bowl bid in seven years in 2003.
After a two-year stint as athletics director at the Naval Academy Prep School in Newport, R.I. from 2004-05, which included one season as head football coach, Speed returned to Annapolis in 2006 as defensive backs coach and head coach of the academy’s junior varsity team.
His second stint with the Midshipmen included two more seasons under Johnson (2006-07) and two seasons under head coach Ken Niumatalolo (2008-09).
Speed played a big role in Navy’s return to national prominence, as the Midshipmen compiled a 35-18 record and earned four-straight bowl berths during his second stint with the program. Most importantly to Navy faithful, the Midshipmen went 8-0 against service-academy rivals Air Force and Army and won four-consecutive Commander-in-Chief’s Trophies during the four-year stretch.
Other highlights from his final four seasons at Navy included:
• helping lead the Midshipmen to their first 10-win season in 104 years in 2009, a 10-4 campaign that was capped by a win over Missouri in the Texas Bowl. Navy’s defense ranked 18th nationally in scoring defense, allowing less than 20 points per game;
• a 24-17 win over No. 16 Wake Forest in 2008, which was Navy’s first victory over a nationally ranked team since 1985;
• safety Ketric Buffin becoming the first Midshipmen to ever intercept a pass in each of the first four games of the season in 2007;
• cornerback Keenan Little becoming the first player in Navy history to score a defensive touchdown against both service academy opponents in the same season in 2006.
A 1996 graduate of the Naval Academy, Speed was a standout on the gridiron for the Midshipmen. A four-year starter at safety, he finished his career with 260 tackles and five interceptions.
Following graduation, Speed was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps and reported to Quantico, Va., where he trained and took the Infantry Officers Course. He was eventually promoted to captain.
In September 1997, he reported to GOLF Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines in Twenty-Nine Palms, Calif. and in July of 1998, went to Okinawa, Japan, for six months, where he was involved in exercise FOAL EAGLE in Korea. After working with the Army in Fort Erwin, Calif., for a month, Speed went to Africa for three months on a security mission for the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.
Speed, and his wife, Ingrid, reside in Atlanta.
|THE JOE SPEED FILE|
|Birthdate||June 16, 1973|
| Hometown||Baltimore, Md.|
|Alma Mater||U.S. Naval Academy, 1996|
|1993-96||U.S. Naval Academy (safety)|
|2000-03||Navy||Executive Administrator / Military Liasion|
|2004-05||Navy Academy Prep School||Director of Athletics|
|2006-09||Navy||Defensive Backs / JV Head Coach|
|2010-12||Georgia Tech||Inside Linebackers|
|2013-15||Georgia Tech||Defensive Backs|