A month after solidifying his 2023 coaching staff, Pat Fitzgerald finds himself back on the search.
On Wednesday afternoon, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that Northwestern cornerbacks coach Ryan Smith will become the next cornerbacks coach for the Arizona Cardinals.
Northwestern cornerbacks coach Ryan Smith is taking the same job with the Arizona Cardinals, per source.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) February 22, 2023
Fitzgerald confirmed the move on Twitter shortly after it was reported.
Smith will become an integral part of a Cardinals coaching staff led by Jonathan Gannon, the former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator whom Arizona hired as its new head coach last week. The move forces Northwestern to look for its fourth new coach of the season after NU parted ways with former defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil, former defensive line coach Marty Long and former receivers coach Dennis Springer in November. It will also give new defensive coordinator David Braun an opportunity to hand-pick a new cornerbacks coach for his staff.
Smith joined Northwestern in January 2022. During his lone season in Evanston, he led a secondary featuring good seasons from Cameron Mitchell, A.J. Hampton, Jeremiah Lewis and Rod Heard II. Despite the defense’s struggles overall, Northwestern held offenses to just -0.053 estimated points added per pass play under Smith, which ranked 47th in the nation.
Smith joined the Wildcats after a two-year stint at Virginia Tech, where he served in the same role and was the defensive pass game coordinator. Prior to his time with the Hokies, Smith was a safeties coach with James Madison in 2019, a secondary coach at Elon from 2017-18 and a graduate assistant at Penn State in 2015-16.