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Ruffin McNeill
Ruffin  McNeill

Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line

Alma Mater:
East Carolina (1980)


Linebacker C.J. Stalker

Linebacker C.J. Stalker on Ruffin McNeill's influence and the team's daily competition amongst the inside and outside linebackers.

Ruffin McNeill enters his second season at Virginia on Bronco Mendenhall’s staff and is the assistant head coach and defensive line coach. McNeill came to Charlottesville after spending six seasons (2010-15) as the head coach at his alma mater, East Carolina. 

During his career, McNeill has previously spent seven seasons working together with fellow UVA assistant coach Robert Anae (offensive coordinator/inside receivers) at UNLV (1997-98) and Texas Tech (2000-04).

McNeill went 42-34 during his time at ECU and the Pirates played in four bowl games. East Carolina recorded 10 victories in 2013, which ranks as the second-highest single-season win total in school history. During the 2013 season, McNeill’s team swept in-state rivals North Carolina and NC State for the first time in the program’s history. McNeill's 2013 squad broke or matched 52 individual and team single-game, single-season and career standards, while both sides of the ball ranked among the Top 15 nationally in 12 statistical categories.

East Carolina's first campaign in the American Athletic Conference in 2014 was memorable as McNeill's squad raced out of the gate with a 6-1 record and resided in the Associated Press Top 25 polls for six weeks after consecutive triumphs over ACC members Virginia Tech (28-21) and North Carolina (70-41). The Pirates used an explosive offensive unit that rated among the nation's top five in passing (third), first downs (fourth) and total yards (fifth), while on defense, only 10 teams at the FBS level were better against the run than the Pirates who allowed just 111.8 yards per game.

Shane Carden and Justin Hardy, who were part of McNeill's first ECU freshman class, shattered every passing and receiving record during their time in Greenville.

McNeill's 2012 edition, young by most standards with 17 juniors and nine sophomores making starts throughout the season, posted an 8-5 record and owned a share of the C-USA East Division title by matching a program best with a 7-1 league slate.

His success and leadership abilities at ECU have enabled McNeill to be a three-time recipient of the Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation's Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Salute to Excellence Award for college head coaches, earning the honor in 2011, 2013 and 2014.

Before returning to his alma mater, McNeill concluded the 2009 season as the Red Raiders' interim head coach by rallying No. 21 Texas Tech to a 41-31 victory over Michigan State at the Valero Alamo Bowl. McNeill spent 10 seasons on Mike Leach’s staff at Texas Tech, three as the defensive coordinator (one as interim).

McNeill's stamp on the defensive unit in Lubbock was apparent in 2008 as the Red Raider unit helped lead Texas Tech to one of the most memorable seasons in school history. The defense ranked fifth in the Big 12 in total defense, fourth in scoring defense and third in pass defense. The rush defense improved from the previous season by 37 yards per game.

McNeill has been a defensive coordinator for 10 seasons during stops at Appalachian State (1993-96), UNLV (1997-98), Fresno State (1999) and Texas Tech. His collegiate coaching career started in 1985 as a Clemson graduate assistant after five seasons of coaching at Lumberton High School (N.C.). McNeill’s first full-time coaching job was at Austin Peay in 1987. He moved to North Alabama in 1988 and then enjoyed his first of two stints at Appalachian State (1989-91) as the linebackers coach. After one season at ECU as the defensive line coach in 1992, McNeill returned to Appalachian State as the defensive coordinator. As defensive coordinator at Appalachian State from 1993-96, the team won the 1995 Southern Conference title and competed in the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs at the conclusion of the 1994 and 1995 regular seasons. McNeill tapped the professional ranks for experience, working as a summer intern with the Miami Dolphins in 1996 before his final season in Boone.

A four-year letterwinner at East Carolina from 1976-80 under legendary head coach Pat Dye, McNeill was a three-year starter at defensive back and was the team captain for two seasons. He helped lead ECU to the Southern Conference Championship in 1976 and an Independence Bowl berth in 1978.

McNeill and his wife, Erlene, have two daughters and a granddaughter. Renata McNeill Petrekin and son-in-law Lincoln Petrekin reside in Coral Gables, Fla., with their daughter Isabella, while Olivia McNeill is a teacher at West Forsyth High School and currently lives in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Coach McNeill
Hometown Lumberton, N.C.
High School Lumberton HS, Lumberton, N.C., 1976
College East Carolina, 1980
Graduate School Clemson, 1987, M.S. secondary counseling
Family wife, Eriene; two daughters, Renata and Olivia
Playing Experience
East Carolina (1976-80)
Coaching Experience
1980-84 - Lumberton High School
Assistant Coach
1985-86 - Clemson
Graduate Assistant
1987 - Austin Peay
1988 - North Alabama
1989-91 - Appalachian State
1992 - East Carolina
Defensive Line
1993-96 - Appalachian State
Defensive Coordinator
1996 - Miami Dolphins
Summer Intern
1997 - UNLV
Defensive Coordinator
1998 - UNLV
Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator
1999 - Fresno State
Defensive Coordinator
2000-02 - Texas Tech
2003-06 - Texas Tech
Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator
2007 - Texas Tech
Assistant Head Coach/Interim Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Tackles
2008-09 - Texas Tech
Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator
2010-15 - East Carolina
Head Coach
2016-present - Virginia
Assistant Head Coach/Inside Linebackers
Postseason Experience
Independence Bowl (1978) - player
Independence Bowl (1985)
Gator Bowl (1986)
I-AA NCAA First Round (1989)
I-AA NCAA First Round (1991)
I-AA NCAA Quarterfinal Round (1994)
I-ACC NCAA Quarterfinal Round (1995)
Las Vegas Bowl (1999) Bowl (2000)
Alamo Bowl (2001)
Tangerine Bowl (2002)
Houston Bowl (2003)
Holiday Bowl (2004)
Cotton Bowl (2006)
Insight Bowl (2006)
Gator Bowl (2008)
Cotton Bowl (2009)
Alamo Bowl (2010)
Military Bowl (2010)
New Orleans Bowl (2012)
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl (2013)
Birmingham Bowl (2015)
Former Prominent Players Coached
Shane Carden (East Carolina)
Justin Hardy (East Carolina)
Dwayne Harris (East Carolina)
Cam Worthy (East Carolina)
Lawrence Flugence (Texas Tech)
John Saldi (Texas Tech)
Mike Smith (Texas Tech)
Alex Trlica (Texas Tech)
Wes Welker (Texas Tech)
Colby Whitlock (Texas Tech)


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Director of News Content

A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.

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