New Virginia soccer coach Tony Elliott has gamers shopping for in early


CHARLOTTE — Virginia’s Tony ­Elliott arrived at ACC soccer media day sporting customized sneakers at school colours with “coronary heart” painted on the outer soles, a reminder of the message he continues to go alongside to his gamers in his first job as a head coach.

The phrase carries particular that means for Elliott, who leaned much more on will than talent when he was a walk-on large receiver at Clemson, the place he most just lately served as offensive coordinator for the ACC’s premier energy.

So vital is willpower to Elliott that in his first crew assembly in Charlottesville he distilled the mission of this system right into a mantra emphasizing coronary heart because the Cavaliers embark on their ultimate season within the Coastal Division earlier than the ACC disbands its two-division construction subsequent yr.

“Serving the guts, not the expertise,” Elliott stated Thursday. “Now that may be a phrase that’s typically stated at Clemson, however that got here from me in a devotion, however it goes even deeper than that. As a participant, I performed from my coronary heart as a result of I wasn’t as proficient as all people else. You may’t measure coronary heart, however I wished to create an surroundings the place you may articulate what it means to have coronary heart.”

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The philosophy resonated particularly with among the extra skilled gamers who got here again this season, together with large receiver Keytaon Thompson. The sixth-year graduate scholar and Elliott have grown shut partly as a result of they share the bond of getting performed the identical place.

However Thompson instantly took to Elliott after repeated tales about how he had overcome obstacles in his private life to succeed in the best ranges of the game. Thompson has been via a lot of the identical on the sphere; he has performed three positions since he transferred from Mississippi State.

He’s settling in at large receiver completely this season as a part of a potent group that features Dontayvion Wicks, who set the college’s single-season yardage report final season, and Lavel Davis Jr., a 6-foot-7 junior who missed final season with an ACL harm.

“One of many first issues he talked about was serving your coronary heart, not your expertise, and that sort of meant quite a bit to me,” Thompson stated. “I might inform that he meant it and it was real. Loads of coaches across the nation would completely disregard somebody if their expertise was missing. I don’t see any of that with Coach Elliott.”

Cavaliers fifth-year senior quarterback Brennan Armstrong has developed an analogous relationship with Elliott whereas studying a brand new playbook. The record-setting left-hander is about to direct an offense that extra intently resembles a professional fashion versus unfold or tempo that has change into common within the faculty recreation.

Armstrong owns just about each significant passing report at school historical past and fell 144 yards wanting matching the ACC’s single-season report for passing, which Clemson’s Deshaun Watson set in 2016.

Armstrong nearly actually would have established a report if he had been in a position to play within the season-ending Fenway Bowl, however the Cavaliers withdrew because of coronavirus cases of their locker room.

“Although that is his first yr head teaching, he understands every little thing,” Armstrong stated. “We’ve nice leaders, I feel. We’ve numerous older guys who can relay his message to our crew and maintain our teammates accountable via us, too. I feel that’s an enormous deal. He’s been preaching that quite a bit to us.”

Elliott took over this system following the resignation of Bronco Mendenhall on the finish of final season. The beautiful announcement got here every week after the Cavaliers lost to Virginia Tech, 29-24, at Scott Stadium, marking the 17th time in 18 conferences they didn’t seize the Commonwealth Cup.

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Every week later, Cavaliers Athletic Director Carla Williams hired Elliott, a captain throughout his senior season at Clemson, the place Tigers Coach Dabo Swinney was his place coach in 2003. He was officially introduced Dec. 13.

Elliott served on Swinney’s workers for the previous 11 seasons and in 2021 was elevated to assistant head coach and solo offensive coordinator. He had been co-offensive coordinator from 2014 to 2020 in addition to working backs coach from 2011 to 2020.

Since Elliott turned co-offensive coordinator, the Tigers led or ranked second within the ACC in whole offense 5 instances. In 2017, Elliot obtained the Frank Broyles Award as the highest assistant coach in faculty soccer.

“I informed him he must take the job,” Swinney stated. “I informed him that is the appropriate one. I felt like he was an amazing match for Virginia, and I felt like Virginia was an amazing match for Tony and his household. He has turned down a number of head jobs over the previous few years, however I felt like Virginia was the appropriate match for him. So far as how ready he’s, he’s extremely ready.”

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