CHESAPEAKE (WAVY) – Justin Fuente called his first season in Blacksburg “a step in the right direction.” Safe to say Hokie Nation would agree.
After two straight six-win seasons, the Hokies jumped to 10 wins, won the ACC Coastal Division championship, narrowly lost the ACC title game to eventual national champion Clemson, won the Belk Bowl title over Arkansas in record fashion, and Fuente was named the ACC Coach of the Year.
But like every other coach in the nation, Fuente is already hard at work preparing for 2017. And heading into year number two, Fuente will have a number of offensive holes to fill.
His up-tempo spread attack lost three key contributors, starting with Virginia Beach’s Bucky Hodges (Salem High School), an All-ACC tight end who could end up an early-round NFL Draft pick.
“(Bucky) certainly brings a lot to the table with his size and intelligence. Obviously can run, and (has) some great ball skills. So, it’ll be interesting to see what those guys (NFL general managers) think,” said Fuente, speaking with the Sportswrap on Sunday.
Fuente will also have to replace Isaiah Ford, the all-time leading receiver in Virginia Tech history, and Jerod Evans, who set school records with 3,546 passing yards and 29 passing touchdowns in a season.
Given his team hasn’t even had its first Spring practice yet, his answer to the “next quarterback” question was a fairly obvious one…”I have no idea.
“We’ve got three kids on campus right now, and I love their character and work ethic. Exactly what it’s going to look like, and how it’s all going to shake out, I haven’t the foggiest idea right now,” said Fuente.
Given the success of Fuente’s first season, and the impression he seems to have made on his most recent recruiting class- ranked in the nation’s top 25- a question much of Hokie Nation is wondering, can this program compete for a national championship?
“Absolutely,” said Fuente. “They’ve done it in the past, and we’ll do it again.”