Oklahoma football: Former Alabama assistant joins OU coaching staff

It had been speculated for several weeks, but it became official on Tuesday with the hiring of Alabama defensive backs coach Jay Valai to the same post on the Oklahoma football staff.

Valai was on the sidelines on Monday coaching for Alabama in the national championship game with Georgia. The hiring of Valai finalizes the revamped Sooner coaching staff under head coach Brent Venables.

A former All-Big Ten defensive back at Wisconsin, Valai coached the defensive backs at Clemson this past season. Prior to that, he coached cornerbacks at Texas, Rutgers and was in charge of defensive quality control for the Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL and at Georgia.

Valai was on the staff at Georgia when the Bulldogs beat Oklahoma in double overtime in the College Football Playoff in 2017.

“Jay is one of the up-and-coming coaches in college football,” said OU head coach Brent Venables in a press release issued by the OU athletic department. “He brings a tremendous amount of passion and energy to the job.

“He’ll bring a lot of great ideas from a scheme standpoint, (and) he’s one of the best teachers in the game and he’s got a great reputation as a recruiter.”

Alabama ranked seventh nationally in total defense (304.1 yards per game) this season and 18th in scoring defense (20.1). During his one season at Texas, the Longhorns were third in the Big 12 in opponents’ yards per completion and fourth in pass efficiency defense.

At Oklahoma, Valai will coach both the cornerbacks and nickelbacks and also serve as co-defensive coordinator.