Ball named running backs coach

ATHENS - Virginia Tech assistant football coach Tony Ball has been named running backs coach at the University of Georgia according to an announcement Tuesday by Bulldog head coach Mark Richt. He succeeds Kirby Smart, who recently accepted a coaching position with the Miami Dolphins.

"We're thrilled to have him join our staff," said Richt. "He comes from a top level program and has a lot of experience on the offensive side of the ball. He's a dedicated family man and he'll do an outstanding job helping members of our team grow as men and as football players."

Tony Ball, who has coached wide receivers for the Hokies since 1998, has a long history of coaching both receivers and running backs. Prior to joining the Virginia Tech staff, Ball served as receivers coach at Louisville (1995-97), running backs coach at the College of Holy Cross (1992-94), receivers coach at UT-Chattanooga (1990-91), running backs coach at East Tennessee (1989), and receivers coach at UT-Chattanooga (1988). He also served as a volunteer running backs coach at South Carolina (1987). During the summers of 1996 and '97, Ball participated in the National Football League's Minority Internship Program with the Baltimore Ravens.

"I'm looking forward to the opportunity to work with Coach Richt and his staff," said Ball. "I'm joining a program that has had great success. I just want to fit in and help wherever I can in continuing that success and help make it even better."

A native of Chattanooga, Tenn., Ball has been a part of Virginia Tech's rapid rise to national prominence having accompanied the Hokies to eight consecutive bowl games and helped them become a regular in the nation's top ten rankings. During his tenure in Blacksburg, the Hokies won 78 games including an 11-2 record in 2005 and seventh place national finish in the AP poll. Ball is credited with coaching some of the school's greatest receivers including Ernest Wilford (2002-03), the school's all-time receptions leader and first player in school history to post two 50-catch seasons. He was also a fourth round choice in the 2004 NFL draft. Ball also coached Andre Davis, one of the Virginia Tech's top three receivers in career catches, receiving yards, and touchdown receptions. Davis was a 2002 second round NFL selection of the Cleveland Browns.

A graduate of UT-Chattanooga, Ball began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Austin Peay (1985-86) where he earned his master's degree in health and nutrition.

Ball played football for the late Joe Morrison at UTC where he was a standout running back (1977-80) who set numerous school kickoff return records and was recently named to the school's All-Century Team. He earned his undergraduate degree in criminal justice. Ball is married to the former Maria Ann Slayden. They have two children: Anthony, 15, and Keshea, 14.

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