Changes to college football coaching staffs are not necessarily expected at this time of the year, just a few weeks before the season. But Idaho coach Robb Akey went looking for a new assistant after linebackers coach Rob Christoff left to pursue other professional opportunities.
Read more about Akey's new hire below. We also have an update on receiver Justin Veltung.
Here's the short piece I put together on the coaching changes and Veltung's turf toe …
MOSCOW, Idaho – Idaho football coach Robb Akey brought in two new assistants in the offseason, and he continued to reshape his staff Thursday following the departure of linebackers coach Rob Christoff.
Christoff has left the program to pursue other professional opportunities, Akey said. The fifth-year coach declined to elaborate further.
With a spot on the Vandals’ staff open, Akey hired Eastern Washington University cornerbacks coach Torey Hunter, a former Washington State defensive back. Hunter will have the same role at Idaho, while defensive coordinator Mark Criner will take over Christoff’s responsibilities with the linebackers.
Current defensive backs coach Patrick Libey will be in charge of safeties and keep his role as special teams coach.
Injury update: Idaho junior wide receiver Justin Veltung will be out 7-10 days with a turf toe injury he sustained in Wednesday’s scrimmage. Veltung has his right foot in a boot while rehabbing the injury, Akey said.
Akey was relieved Veltung had not broken a bone, but the coach noted that turf toe injuries can linger. Still, the offiical time frame — as of now — is a week to 10 days.
As far as hiring Hunter, Akey cited his successful playing career at Washington State and long career in the NFL as a cornerback. “I think he'll bring a little swagger.”
Akey said he had talked to Hunter previously about joining the staff, but it never worked out until now. This all took place quickly this week, after Christoff's departure. Akey called EWU coach Beau Baldwin to get permission to talk to Hunter. He said he has a lot of respect for Baldwin and how he handled the situation.
Akey also noted that coaching linebackers will be a better fit for Criner, who previously helped out with the secondary. Criner was a linebackers coach when Akey hired him, and game-planning for the linebacking crew — in terms of scheming for blitz packages, coverages, etc. — fits a coordinator well because linebackers have to know the full defense, Akey said.