By Marty Gordon
In a twist of faith, a basketball coach that had been fired from Virginia Tech is now back with the football program.
James Johnson returns to the university after serving as the head coach of the men’s basketball team from 2011-2014. Previously, he had served as an assistant for three years prior and compiled a 22-41 overall mark as the head man on the sidelines.
His new title will be director of high school relations.
“We are super excited to bring J.J. back to Blacksburg,” said football coach Brent Pry. “As we have gotten to know each other, I couldn’t be more impressed by his infectious personality, ability to connect with student-athletes and mature approach to college athletics. His knowledge of Virginia Tech combined with nearly three decades successfully recruiting Virginia, the Carolinas, D.C., Maryland and Pennsylvania will be invaluable in his new role. We can’t wait for him to get started and begin making an impact in our program.”
Johnson has deep roots across the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic, allowing him to cultivate and sustain lasting relationships within the Virginia Tech recruiting footprint. He brings nearly three decades of experience in college athletics, including more than 10 years in the ACC with coaching stops at Virginia Tech, Miami and North Carolina State, where he most recently worked under Kevin Keatts for five seasons. Throughout his career up and down the east coast, Johnson has made countless high school connections, and understands how crucial recruiting is to a successful program.
“J.J. has been in Blacksburg for a large part of his career and is connected to our staff,” said Virginia Tech Director of Athletics, Whit Babcock. “He loves Virginia Tech and will be a great ambassador for our university. His relationships in our footprint and his rapport with Hokie Nation are what have led us to this opportunity. His vital connections with high schools will help us to attract the very best to play for the Hokies.”
From 2017 to 2022, Johnson served as assistant coach for the North Carolina State basketball team.
Johnson had replaced his former boss, Seth Greenberg, at Virginia Tech but struggled in two seasons.
Johnson spent two seasons with Jim Larrañaga at George Mason. The Patriots advanced to the 2006 NCAA Final Four before falling to eventual national champion Florida.
Johnson served as an assistant coach under Ed DeChellis at Penn State from 2003-2005. Johnson was also the recruiting coordinator for the Nittany Lions during his time in State College.