Jay Valai is back in his home state, as the Texas native was announced as the new cornerbacks coach for the Texas Longhorns on Monday after emerging as the leading candidate on Friday.
“Jay is an outstanding young coach who I believe checks all the boxes when it comes to his ability to coach on the field as well as relate to, connect with and develop players,” Texas head coach Herman said in a statement released by the school. “As a Texas native, he has a passion for our state, knows it well and will also be a tremendous recruiter for us. Chris Ash coached him as a player, hired him as a coach and thinks the world of him. I really enjoyed my time visiting with Jay and was really impressed by what he’ll bring to our program. We’re thrilled to add him to our staff.”
Following the the Friday news that new defensive coordinator Chris Ash wasn’t going to retain Jason Washington as the cornerbacks coach, Valai immediately emerged as the leading candidate. Ash added Valai to his final Rutgers staff last February from the Kansas City Chiefs, where Valai spent two seasons serving as a defensive quality control coach. Prior to that stint in the NFL, Valai spent two years as a quality control coach at Georgia, including in 2017 when the Bulldogs played for the national championship.
During his time in Athens, he did spend some time on the road recruiting when Georgia made coaching changes, similar to the situation at Texas when analysts Andre Coleman and Jeremiah Georgia joined the on-field coaching staff to aid recruiting efforts before the early signing period.
“First and foremost, this is the blessing of a lifetime,” Valai said. “Growing up as a kid in Texas and watching Aaron Ross and Michael Huff and all these guys play, and being part of the culture that is Texas high school football, which is second to none, I’m just elated. I’m beyond proud and blessed to be able to represent all of that every minute of every day and to be joining the staff at Texas. To work with a guy like Chris Ash, who is one of the best defensive minds in football and is a tremendous human being, and with the greatness of Coach Herman who is pushing this program to the next level, it’s something I am truly blessed to be able to do.”
From Colleyville, Valai played defensive back for Ash at Wisconsin, where he was a three-year starter and two-time All-Big Ten selection. Valai then spent three years as a trainer in Southlake before he joined the Georgia support staff. So he has connections to the Metroplex and could help the Longhorns with recruiting in that region.
“Jay is a rising star in this profession,” Ash said. “He’s one of the best young coaches I’ve been around. He’s very passionate about football, a great relationship builder, takes great care of his players and is a tremendous recruiter. I knew he was going to be very successful in whatever he did back when he played for me at Wisconsin. I watched him on his career path at the various stops he made, and everybody I talked to who he worked for just said unbelievable things about him. He just keeps getting better and better. He’s from the state of Texas, born and raised in the Dallas area, and I’m very excited to have him on board with us.”
Not only is Valai returning to his home state, he has long had an affinity for Austin.
“There’s nothing like the ATX. I love Austin,” Valai said. “My wife and I, no matter where we’ve been, during the offseason we always go to Austin to relax and get away. Austin is a special, special city, and I’ve always told my wife that when it comes down to it, that’s a city that I’d like to be able to live until the end of my days in. It’s the best city in America, and I’m excited to get there and get this rolling.”