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Key Alabama Assistant Coach Leaving To Join Big 12 Power

A detailed view of Alabama Crimson Tide helmets in a pile during the celebration after the CFP National Championship.

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: A detailed view of Alabama Crimson Tide helmets in a pile during the celebration after the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. Alabama won 26-23. (Photo by

Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables has rounded out his first defensive staff in Norman with a big-time hire.

On Tuesday, the Sooners announced the hiring of former Alabama cornerbacks coach Jay Valai as the team's co-defensive coordinator/passing defense coordinator.

After stints with multiple college and NFL programs, Valai landed as a cornerback's coach under Nick Saban in 2021. Through his first and only season with the Crimson Tide, the former Wisconsin Badgers defensive back led his unit to a No. 50 passing defense rating among FBS teams (3,271 yards and 25 passing touchdowns allowed).

"Alabama has been awesome and Nick Saban is the G.O.A.T.," Valai said in a statement. "I learned so much working under him and we have a tremendous relationship. He and Miss Terry have been amazing to my family and me.

"But to get the opportunity to be closer to home working for an Oklahoma program I grew up watching while living in Dallas and to work with Brent and be a cook in the kitchen with him is special. I'm excited. It's beyond a blessing to be part of Sooner Nation."

Jay Valai will work in tandem with fellow defensive coordinator Todd Bates, a former Clemson defensive line coach who followed Venables to Norman.

In addition to some experienced talent returning in the secondary, the Sooners will also bring in two four-star defensive backs for Valai to work with in 2022.