Justin Hamilton to replace longtime Va. Tech DC Foster

Virginia Tech has promoted safeties coach Justin Hamilton to defensive coordinator to replace longtime coordinator Bud Foster, who is retiring after the team's upcoming bowl game.

Hamilton, 37, a former Hokies player, returned to his alma mater in 2018 as director of player development for defense and was promoted to safeties coach this past season.

"Justin has earned this opportunity to lead our defense and our football team," Hokies coach Justin Fuente said in a statement. "Everyone in our program has a great deal of respect for him and his abilities. Coach Foster has reiterated to me on several occasions that Justin is ready for this next step in his coaching career. I feel the same way and am convinced he's exactly the right fit for this role at Virginia Tech."

Fuente also announced that cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell and running backs coach Zohn Burden won't return to his staff.

Foster, 60, the architect of Virginia Tech's Lunch Pail defense, is the longest continually tenured FBS assistant coach at the same school. He was hired by former Hokies coach Frank Beamer as inside linebackers coach in 1987 and was elevated to co-defensive coordinator in 1995. He assumed control of the defense the next season and has held that role ever since.

Foster won the Broyles Award as the sport's top assistant coach in 2006 and was a finalist three other times.

Hamilton, a native of Clintwood, Virginia, played running back, receiver and defensive back for the Hokies under Beamer from 2002 to '05. He was a seventh-round draft choice of the Cleveland Browns in 2006 and spent parts of two seasons in the NFL.

Hamilton previously worked as an assistant at VMI for four seasons and at UVA-Wise from 2010 to '13.

"I understand and appreciate the responsibility that comes with this position," Hamilton said in a statement. "I was raised in this game by Frank Beamer and Bud Foster. Virginia Tech football will always be part of my identity. No one can ever fill Bud's shoes, but we are going to strive to play tough, aggressive defense just like we always have here at Tech."