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Tony Elliott adds Keith Gaither and Chris Slade to his Virginia coaching staff

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CHARLOTTESVILLE — First-year Virginia football coach Tony Elliott continued adding to his staff on Thursday.

The Cavaliers announced they officially hired defensive assistants Keith Gaither and Chris Slade. Yahoo Sports first linked Gaither and Slade to UVa on Monday.

Gaither joins the Hoos after spending the two previous seasons as the wide receivers coach at Army. He had two stints with the Black Knights, also coaching with them in 2015 and 2016 in the same capacity. Between his pair of stays at West Point, he was the passing-game coordinator and wide receivers coach for East Carolina for two years and worked as the receivers coach at Western Michigan in 2019.

Slade, a UVa alum and two-time All-American for the Cavaliers, spent the past nine years as head coach in the prep ranks at Pace Academy in Atlanta on the heels of a nine-year NFL playing career. With the Cavaliers, he set the UVa and Atlantic Coast Conference record for career sacks with 40. In the NFL, he spent eight seasons with the New England Patriots and one year with the Carolina Panthers. He racked up 664 tackles and 53.5 sacks as a pro.

In a video posted on Twitter by UVa, Elliott said of hiring Slade, “I got to experience the opportunity as a former player to coach at my alma mater, so this was a really, really cool hire for me.”

Before taking the head-coaching gig with the Cavaliers last month, Elliott spent 11 seasons as an assistant at Clemson, where he played for the Tigers.

“Ever since I met [Slade] several years ago,” Elliott said, “through the recruiting process and recruiting at one of the schools he coached at, I could tell he’s genuine, humble and very, very passionate about the orange and blue.”

Gaither played at Elon before beginning his coaching career in North Carolina at Greensboro College. He had other stops at Tusculum College, Thomasville High School, Winston-Salem State, Elon and Ball State.

Gaither and Slade are the sixth and seventh hires made by Elliott. He retained three former assistants of ex-coach Bronco Mendenhall — wide receivers coach Marques Hagans, offensive line coach Garett Tujague and defensive line coach Clint Sintim.

Earlier this week, Elliott also named former Atlanta Falcons running backs coach Des Kitchings as the Cavaliers’ new offensive coordinator and welcomed former Navy defensive ends and outside linebackers coach Kevin Downing to the group.


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