Oklahoma targeting Alabama assistant Jay Valai to be the next defensive backs coach

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  • Brent Venables
    Brent Venables
    American football player and coach

With the 2021 season officially in the rearview, the Oklahoma Sooners begin preparations for the 2022 season and beyond. Brent Venables has been working to put together his staff and hit the recruiting trail the last month. It had long been rumored that Venables was targeting a defensive backs coach from one of the participants in the College Football Playoff.

According to Matt Zenitz of On3 Sports, the Oklahoma Sooners are targeting Jay Valai to be the next defensive backs coach of the Oklahoma Sooners.

Valai has spent time in both college and the NFL coaching defensive backs, most recently with the Crimson Tide. Before his one-year stint at Alabama, Valai spent the 2020 season with the Texas Longhorns. After the coaching change at Texas, Valai was hired by the University of Houston before jumping back to the NFL to coach DBs for the Philadelphia Eagles after just 12 days on the job with the Cougars. His time with the Eagles was even more short-lived as he returned to the college ranks to join Nick Saban and his staff at Alabama.

In 2019, Valai coached at Rutgers and, before that, spent the 2018 season with the Kansas City Chiefs as a defensive quality control coach and assistant defensive backs coach. Jay Valai was a member of the Georgia Bulldogs staff that beat the Oklahoma Sooners in the 2017 Rose Bowl.

If hired, Valai will take over a defensive backs group that includes talented players like Woodi Washington, Key Lawrence, and D.J. Graham. He’d have some work to do to replace starting safeties Pat Fields (academic transfer to Stanford) and Delarrin Turner-Yell (NFL draft), but Key Lawrence figures to fill one of those spots as the strong safety.

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