An Abundance of Options Offers No Guarantee for Virginia Tech at Running Back

Has any position been as underwhelming as running back over the last few seasons for Virginia Tech?

Here’s a list of Virginia Tech’s leading running backs from 2003-2011: Kevin Jones, Mike Imoh, Cedric Humes, Branden Ore (twice), Darren Evans (twice), Ryan Williams and David Wilson.

Among that group are five 1,000-yard rushers and a few players who made it to the NFL. Virginia Tech’s backs may have never received a lot of national attention, but the program churned out productive starters nearly every season.

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Monday Mail: Hokies Secure Third-Straight NCAA Bid Amid Rumors of Buzz Williams’ Departure

Welcome back, folks! Spring is dawning on most of the country and especially so here in Virginia, where the Hokies are preparing for spring football and a potential NCAA Tournament run.

With so much going on, we’re due for a Monday Mail column. So let’s dive into your questions.

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Acquiring Case Keenum Gives the Redskins Needed Flexibility Moving Forward

The Washington Redskins are one of the most dysfunctional franchises in all of American sports. They’ve continuously made themselves a joke, whether it’s poor management from the front office, lackluster coaching or players worried more about their external brand than learning how to improve as players. We can go on and on.

So when the front office gets something right, it’s important to note it and celebrate it, even if the move may only marginally improve the team’s hope of making the playoffs with its most expensive player likely to miss the entire 2019 season.

To fill the void likely left by quarterback Alex Smith, the Redskins acquired Case Keenum from the Denver Broncos. Denver signed Keenum to a hefty two-year contract worth $36 million last year, but Keenum failed to make an impact and Denver’s trade for Joe Flacco made Keenum easily expendable.

But Denver got little value for Keenum, receiving a sixth-round pick and shipping a seventh-rounder with Keenum to Washington. Keenum’s contract had already been restructured and thanks to Denver’s need to ship Keenum, he’ll only count for $3.5 million against the salary cap this season for the Redskins.

The acquisition of Keenum gives Washington a veteran quarterback to add to a room that currently includes just Colt McCoy. If Smith is unable to play this season, Washington now has two veteran options instead of one.

If Keenum has to play, there’s reason to believe he can find at least a moderate amount of success. After several years of middling play, Keenum emerged in 2017 in Minnesota, starting 14 games and completing 67.6 percent of his throws for 3,547 yards, 22 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. The Vikings ended up moving on, but Keenum parlayed his season into the previous deal with Denver.

Last season didn’t go as planned, thanks to a variety of reasons. For one, Denver had few weapons for Keenum to work with and his best receiver, Demaryius Thomas, was traded halfway through the season. Keenum was definitely responsible for his 18-15 touchdown-to-interception ratio, but so was Vance Joseph’s poor offense.

Even if Washington only plans on using Keenum as leverage, trading for him makes sense. As CBS Sports’ Will Brinson notes, Keenum gives Washington all sorts of leverage in potential trade negotiations.

“In the trade market, the Redskins might be interested in Josh Rosen. Without Keenum on the roster, Washington might be forced into giving up some serious capital to the Cardinals in exchange for Rosen. Once again, they can play hardball now. And, more importantly, as pointed out by several followers on Twitter, perhaps the Redskins just landed themselves a nifty little trade chip in the form of Keenum.”

Brinson also notes that Keenum played for new Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury while the two were at Houston under Kevin Sumlin. If Kingsbury wants to start from scratch with Kyler Murray, Keenum is a solid veteran for him to learn from.

No matter how you slice it, the Redskins’ move for Keenum was as wise as it was shrewd. They are trying to make the best of an unenviable situation. Smith is taking up a large portion of the salary cap — approximately $20 million — which leaves Washington severely handicapped. The Redskins have few tools to worth with, but Keenum’s acquisition gives them more options than they had. Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen will never be able to wash away their football sins, but this move was low-key terrific.

Five Position Battles Facing Virginia Tech Football This Spring

Very few positions on Virginia Tech’s depth chart are settled. The uncertainty stretches to both sides of the ball and it hits nearly every single position group.

Virginia Tech’s 2019 spring practices will go a long way in settling some of the uncertainty. It’s doubtful that it will solve any of Tech’s roster questions, but we should learn a bit about what kind of Virginia Tech team we’ll see next season.

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Virginia Tech Preparing for Pivotal Spring Practice Slate

Football is back, Hokies!

Well, not really. Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente hosted his first spring football press conference last, answering questions about the team’s personnel, his thoughts on the transfer portal and more.

Here are my biggest takeaways from Tech’s media availability and some of the bigger headlines surrounding the Hokies as they approach spring practice.

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Monday Mail: Burmeister’s Impact, the Transfer Portal and Creating a College ‘Farm System’

Welcome back, Hokies. Monday Mail has returned and though it is on a Tuesday, I promise that these takes haven’t yet expired.

Without further ado, let’s dive into your questions for this week.

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New Safteties Coach Justin Hamilton Gives the Hokies Just What They Need

Virginia Tech’s hiring of Justin Hamilton as the Hokies’ new safeties coach won’t wow anyone, and that’s perfectly alright.

Word began to spread over the weekend that Tyrone Nix, who was hired to replace Galen Scott as Virginia Tech’s safeties coach prior to the 2018 season, was leaving to return to Mississippi and Ole Miss. That move became official on Monday, when Tech announced that Nix was leaving and that Hamilton was being promoted to take his place.

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Justin Fuente Turns the Tide With Brilliant Finish to 2019 Recruiting Cycle

Class of 2019 offensive lineman Doug Nester gave Virginia Tech a much-needed boost when he signed with the Hokies on National Signing Day. (Photo via @Freshie74 on Twitter)

It’s been a turbulent offseason for Virginia Tech, but head coach Justin Fuente just finished one hell of a week that seems to have the Hokies pointed in the right direction.

Just weeks after losing several players to the transfer market, Virginia Tech wrapped up their 2019 recruiting class with three key signees. Each of the players are important in their own way, and each player helps dispel some of the negative narratives surrounding the program.

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Stephen Newman Joins The LaBlue Review as a Contributor for Washington D.C. Sports

Stephen with his brilliant dog Casey. Who doesn’t love cute dog pictures?

Stephen Newman, a long-time friend of mine and a graduate of Virginia Tech’s growing communications department, has joined The LaBlue Review to contribute coverage of Washington D.C. sports, primarily the Washington Wizards and the Washington Nationals.

Stephen earned sports writing experience as a student at Virginia Tech from 2014-2018. He served as the Social Media Editor of The Collegiate Times as a senior, managing the student newspaper’s social media presence on multiple platforms. More importantly, Stephen contributed to the newspaper’s coverage of Virginia Tech football and led the way in its coverage of Tech baseball, along with men’s and women’s basketball.

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