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Tech Names Jon Tenuta Defensive Coordinator

Feb. 13, 2002

Jon Tenuta, who guided North Carolina to become the top-rated defense statistically in the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2001 and help the Tar Heels to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl championship, has been named the defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech, head coach Chan Gailey announced.

“Jon Tenuta has a history of outstanding defenses and we’re excited about him joining our staff at Georgia Tech,” said Gailey. “It has taken awhile, but we feel that we have hired a great man for the job.”

Tenuta, whose Tar Heels led the ACC in total defense and pass defense while ranking third in run defense and scoring defense, comes to Tech with 22 years of experience as a defensive coach and has served as a defensive coordinator at five other schools, including Marshall (1987), Kansas State (1988), SMU (1990-94), Ohio State (2000) and North Carolina (2001).

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to be a part of an outstanding program at Georgia Tech,” said Tenuta, “and the chance to work with an excellent coach in Chan Gailey and a great staff he is putting together. I can’t wait to get started.”

Regarded as one of the nation’s best secondary coaches, Tenuta has developed several defensive backs into NFL players. In fact, every player to start for Tenuta at Ohio State has been selected in the NFL draft, including first-round draft picks Shawn Springs, Antoine Winfield and Ahmed Plummer. Springs, who now plays for the Seattle Seahawks, was the 1996 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team all-America. Winfield, the 1998 Jim Thorpe Award winner, now plays for the Buffalo Bills.

Ohio State’s pass defense was consistently ranked among the nation’s best during Tenuta’s tenure. The Buckeyes were ranked in the top three in pass efficiency defense in three of his six seasons.

Tenuta, 44, began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Virginia (1981-82), and was an assistant coach at Maryland (1983), Vanderbilt (1984-85), Marshall (1986-87), Kansas State (1988), SMU (1989-94) and Oklahoma (1995). At SMU, Tenuta was the defensive backs coach in 1989 before being promoted to defensive coordinator in 1990. In 1992, the Mustangs led the Southwest Conference in pass defense. At Ohio State, he was the defensive backs coach from 1996-1999 before being elevated to the defensive coordinator post in 2000.

A native of Columbus, Ohio, Tenuta graduated from Virginia in 1982. He lettered three years as a defensive back for the Cavaliers, started all 11 games in 1980, and won the John Acree Memorial Football Trophy for leadership, service and spirit.

Tenuta and his wife Dori have three sons, Zach, Matt and Luke.

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