Virginia Tech Hokies Football Offseason Preview
The Virginia Tech Hokies are starting over. They spent several years hoping that head coach Justin Fuente could maintain the standard set by previous program icon Frank Beamer, but it just didn’t work out. Instructively, Fuente – who came to the program as an offensive wizard and a gifted play caller – couldn’t get his offense to function as well as it possibly could. Virginia Tech parted ways with him and pursued a different identity. It will be fascinating to see how this new approach does or doesn’t help the Hokies, who are starving for a return to relevance in ACC football.
Key Personnel Lost
Justin Fuente is out as Virginia Tech head coach. Replacing him is Brent Pry, who was the defensive coordinator for the Penn State Nittany Lions under head coach James Franklin. Pry should have few problems installing a hard-nosed and rugged defense in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech’s signature was its defense for multiple decades under former defensive coordinator Bud Foster. Pry’s real challenge will be on the other side of the ball, which is not his forte but is something Fuente, his predecessor, was unable to figure out.
Virginia Tech lost tight end James Mitchell, linebacker Amare Barno, guard Lecitus Smith, and offensive tackle Luke Tenuta to the NFL draft. There are a lot of bodies Pry has to replace on this roster, making sure he doesn’t suffer significant slippage in quality.
Important Incoming Freshmen
The Hokies have a lot of freshmen enrolled and set up to join the team this fall. Defensive lineman Gunner Givens, tight end Benji Gosnell, and cornerback Cam Johnson are four-star recruits. There are a lot of three-star prospects coming in, including offensive tackle Brody Meadows, tight end Daequan Wright, cornerback Mansoor Delane, quarterback Devin Farrell, offensive tackle Xavier Chaplin, defensive lineman Kyree Moyston, receiver Tucker Holloway, edge rusher Keyshawn Burgos, running back Bryce Duke, and defensive lineman Lemar Law. Clemson and top national programs go for the five-stars and four-stars. Virginia Tech is loading up on three-stars, hoping that the depth of this recruiting hall will give the Hokies a lot of prospects. If even 30 percent of these prospects pan out and become quality players, that’s a lot of added production for the program. If the coaching staff can develop these three-stars into players who are even better at their positions, Tech can gain four-star quality from three-star recruits.
Virginia Tech also added receiver Jadan Blue in the transfer portal to rev up its offense.
Key Position Battles
Quarterback is the key piece of the puzzle for Virginia Tech. It is the position which flummoxed Fuente, who was a seasoned quarterback coach. Pry and his staff have to encourage a robust QB competition and find the right leader coming out of August camp in late summer.
Biggest Offseason Goal(s)
Brent Pry has to find a plan – and more precisely, an approach on offense and defense – which is balanced and able to account for all the changes on his roster. He is a defensive coach, but he has to build an offense which puts his defense in position to succeed. How do the pieces fit? Pry needs to structure his August training camp in ways which reveal which players are in the best position to help the program, both now and in 2023.