BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Justin Fuente’s second season as the coach at Virginia Tech will be a significant challenge because his first-year success might have cost him some players.
The Hokies won 10 games again, in part because of a dynamic offense, but went into Wednesday’s national signing day needing to replace three record-setting juniors who decided to leave early for the NFL: quarterback Jerod Evans, wide receiver Isaiah Ford and tight end-wide receiver Bucky Hodges.
“Last year was speed dating,” Fuente said of his limited time to recruit after becoming the Hokies coach last November. “This is much more calculated.”
Among the 26 players signed, Virginia Tech added 12 on offense, including two quarterbacks, three wide receivers and three tight ends, 11 on defense, a punter and two athletes. Like Evans, who was only in Blacksburg for one season, the Hokies added a transfer quarterback, A.J. Bush, who has been out of high school for three years.
Other things to know:
Top 25 Class: On the bubble
Best in class: Devon Hunter, a defensive back from Indian River HS in Chesapeake, is a four- or five-star player who will be looked at as just the next in a long line of Hokies defensive backs with futures in the NFL. He had offers from dozens of schools, including many from Power Five conferences, and chose to stay in state.
Best of the rest: LB Dylan Rivers from Sherando HS in Virginia (flipped after originally committing to Penn State), DE Robert Porcher IV of Orlando, Florida (father was a three-time Pro Bowler in an 11-year NFL career with Detroit), DE TyJuan Garbutt (four-star player from Riverbend HS in Fredericksburg, Virginia)
Late addition: None
One that got away: Four-star wide receiver Tahj Capehart of Virginia Beach originally signed with the Hokies, but flipped and signed with Maryland. Fuente said he has no hard feelings. The kids have a right to make the decision that’s best for them,” he said.
How they’ll fit in: The Hokies have three young quarterbacks on the roster, and Hendon Hooker will make it four. Fuente said he likes that by also adding transfer Bush (two years at Nebraska, one at Iowa Western Community College), it gives them a more mature voice in the quarterback room.