Addae Always Thought He’d Return To WVU
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Some things have changed about Jahmile Addae since he left West Virginia 11 years ago, but many things haven’t.
The most noticeable change – but to him least important – is the pronunciation of his first name.
The former hard-hitting Mountaineer safety (2001-05), who was a team captain his senior season, was known during his WVU days as Ja-Mall, but that was a mispronunciation. A college kid just feeling his way, Addae didn’t bother to correct those who made the mistake when he first arrived at West Virginia.
Upon his return now to serve as the Mountaineers’ defensive secondary coach, though, his wife Maryann suggested he explain the proper way to say his first name, which is Ja-Mile.
That out of the way, he got on to what he said was the truly important part of his return to West Virginia, serving as an assistant coach on Neal Brown’s new football coaching staff.
Now an experienced coach with a slightly different first name, Addae is in many ways the same as was when he was at WVU previously – smart, no-nonsense, straightforward. In all the things that are important, there is no change.
Addae had been an outstanding safety for the Mountaineers, recording 189 tackles and eight interceptions in his career, which spanned five seasons. As a true freshman, he played three games late in the 2001 season to help a WVU secondary decimated by injuries. Then he moved into a starting role in 2002 and was there again in 2003, before a shoulder injury a couple games into that junior season forced him to the sidelines and into a medical redshirt. He returned to the starting lineup in 2004 and started every game over his final two seasons, culminating five tackles in West Virginia’s 2006 Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia.
Addae, who went to high school in Valrico, Fla., which is just outside Tampa, wasn’t drafted by an NFL team after his senior season in 2005, but he got a free agency chance with the Indianapolis Colts. A medical exam revealed a heart condition, though, that ended his playing days.
Still wanting to be involved with football, Jahmile started on the next logical path, coaching.
He returned to WVU, starting on the ground floor as a graduate assistant in the video department in 2007. West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez left for Michigan at the end of that regular season, and he offered Addae a graduate assistantship with the Wolverines, where he spent two years. That led to his first full-time coaching job in 2010, working with the running backs at Cincinnati for former WVU assistant Butch Jones. He rejoined Rodriguez in Arizona in 2013, initially as a defensive analyst but then as the Wildcats’ defensive backs’ coach. He moved to Minnesota in 2018, again coaching DBs, before heeding Brown’s call to return to WVU.
“It was tough,” Addae said of leaving Minnesota. “Any time you leave a situation where you put a lot of time, effort, blood, sweat and tears into kids, schemes, the community, any of those things. A lot of the time people misconstrue a coache’s move as being easy, when a lot of times, it is harder than you think, but maybe it was the best thing for you, your family and your career, and that was the situation here.”
Even though he spent over a decade working elsewhere, returning to West Virginia is something Addae said he always felt was in his destiny.
“I knew I would come back here,” he stated. “They say there is power in the tongue, and you have to speak it into existence. For me, I knew it was a dream of mine to come back home and coach ball. This isn’t a job for me. It is a brotherhood. It’s a fraternity. It’s family. I know that is somewhat cliché in our profession, but obviously for me, it is a personal deal.”
Since leaving WVU after the 2007 season, Addae has climbed the coaching ladder and learned a lot along the way.
“I like to say that football, especially coaching, is a copycat profession,” he explained. “If something works, you are going to take it and use it. I like to think that I kind of grabbed a lot of good things from some folks and left aside what I didn’t think was pertinent or important necessarily to my position in bettering my guys.”