Practice No. 1 in the books for the Yellow Jackets
New defensive line coach comes to Georgia Tech after two seasons at Auburn
Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. Saturday on the ACC's regional sports networks
Georgia Tech defensive coordinator exits in third season
MTSU 49, Georgia Tech 28
Joe Speed begins his fifth season at Georgia Tech and his second coaching the Yellow Jacket defensive backs.
In 2010 and 2011, Speed coached Georgia Tech's inside linebackers. Midway through the 2012 season, he moved over to coach the outside linebackers. In 2013, Speed began coaching the defensive backs.
In his first two seasons in Atlanta, Speed helped to install the 3-4 defense. In 2013, the Yellow Jackets reverted back to the 4-3 under defensive coordinator Ted Roof.
Last season, Speed helped the Yellow Jacket defense make remarkable strides. Tech made significant improvements statistically in rushing defense, scoring defense, total defense and third-down defense. The Jackets recorded two shutouts in one season for the first time since 1985.
Despite two projected starters at safety -- Isaiah Johnson and Jamal Golden -- missing most or all of the season with injuries, the Tech secondary flourished in 2013. Senior Jemea Thomas, who led the team in tackles (88) and pass break-ups (8), paved the way. Thomas is highly likely to play in the NFL in 2014.
Under Speed's guidance in 2012, inside linebacker Quayshawn Nealy developed into one of the top ILB's in the ACC, and redshirt freshman Jabari Hunt-Days started from Day One and emerged as one of the top defensive rookies in the nation.
Former Yellow Jacket inside linebacker Julian Burnett emerged as one of the most prolific tacklers in recent Tech history. In 2011, Burnett had a team-high 120 tackles -- 42 more tackles than any player on the team. Burnett also had 9.5 tackles for loss and he forced and recovered fumbles as a junior in 2011.
The previous season, two of Speed's inside linebackers -- Burnett and senior Brad Jefferson -- ranked one-two on the team with a combined 173 tackles. Under Speed, Burnett went from a back-up in September to leading the team with 89 tackles. Speed came to Georgia Tech from the U.S. Naval Academy, his alma mater, where he worked six seasons under head coach Paul Johnson.
In his final four seasons at Navy, Speed coached the Midshipmen defensive backs and also served as head coach of the junior varsity team.
Speed was part of a staff that brought the Midshipmen back into the national spotlight with a 61-29 record over his last seven years.
In 2009 Navy won 10 games (10-4) and defeated Missouri in the Texas Bowl. The Midshipmen defeated Army and Air Force to capture the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy and the Navy defense ranked 18th nationally in scoring defense, allowing less than 20 points per game.
In 2008, Speed helped first-year head coach Ken Niumatalolo to one of the most successful seasons for a first-year head coach in school history. The Mids posted an 8-5 record in 2008, which is the best mark for a first-year head coach at Navy since 1934. The eight wins qualified the Midshipmen for the EagleBank Bowl. Navy earned a 24-17 victory over 16th-ranked Wake Forest, which was Navy's first win over a team ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 since 1985, as well as Navy's victory the previous week over Rutgers. It was the first time since 1981 that Navy beat teams currently in the BCS in back-to-back weeks. Navy also defeated a program-record four bowl teams.
The 2007 season -- Johnson's final campaign in Annapolis -- was a memorable one as well as the Midshipmen posted an 8-5 record, won a school-record fifth-consecutive Commander-In-Chief's Trophy, appeared in a school-record fifth-straight bowl game, and defeated Notre Dame for the first time since 1963. Safety Ketric Buffin became the first player in school history to intercept a pass in each of the first four games of the season.
In 2006 one of Speed's pupils, Keenan Little, became the first player in Navy history to score a defensive touchdown in both Service Academy games in the same year as Navy once again won the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy and participated in a bowl game.
Speed returned to the Naval Academy after a two-year hiatus at the Naval Academy Prep School in Newport, R.I., where he served as the Director of Athletics for two seasons and as the head football coach for one year.
Before going to the prep school, Speed had a successful military tour at the United States Naval Academy as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps.
In his first stint at Navy, Speed served as the Executive Administrator and Military Liaison Officer for the football team, while serving to recruit future Marine Officers, as well. Speed's military duties involved the supervision of various administrative, logistical, and professional matters pertaining to the football team and the Naval Academy Athletic Association.
On the field, Speed served as the assistant linebackers coach and head junior varsity coach. He coached four seasons at Navy and in 2003, helped guide the football team to an impressive 8-5 record, which included capturing the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy and an appearance in the 2003 Houston Bowl.
A 1996 graduate of the Naval Academy, Speed was a standout on the gridiron for the Midshipmen. A four-year starter at safety, he finished his career with 260 tackles and five interceptions.
Following graduation, Speed was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps and reported to Quantico, Va., where he trained and took the Infantry Officers Course.
In September of 1997, he reported to GOLF Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines in Twenty-Nine Palms, Calif., and in July of 1998, went to Okinawa, Japan, for six months, where he was involved in exercise FOAL EAGLE in Korea. After working with the Army in Fort Erwin, Calif., for a month, Speed went to Africa for three months on a security mission for the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.
Speed, and his wife, Ingrid, reside in Atlanta.