Monday Mail: Aftermath of Reynolds’ Dismissal and Florida State Thoughts

It’s Monday, which means you’re back at work. It also means that I’m taking time to answer your questions from the weekend, which I truly enjoy doing. You guys submitted an abundance of questions this week (Thank you!) and those that weren’t answered will probably be answered next week. For now, let’s get cracking.


Of course, we’re starting this week’s Monday Mail with a Mook Reynolds question. In case you forgot, Virginia Tech announced last week that Reynolds had been dismissed from the team, effective immediately.

Reynolds’ departure leaves Virginia Tech greener than they already were in the defensive backfield. Reggie Floyd is the only projected starter with any significant playing time under his belt.

This amount of youth leaves the entire group vulnerable. All it takes is for one cog in the system to malfunction and the whole thing breaks down. Inexperience breeds mistakes.

Florida State’s passing offense wasn’t good in 2017, finishing 89th in the country at 196.2 passing yards per game. The Seminoles had just 38 passing plays of 20 yards or more, good enough for a tie for 69th in the country.

As we know, Florida State’s offense will look wildly different in 2018. Deandre Francois should be healthy and ready to go and sophomore James Blackman is a year older and wiser. Whoever starts at quarterback for Florida State should give Willie Taggart a more than competent option.

Taggart’s 2017 offense at Oregon wasn’t explosive either. The Ducks were tied with the Seminoles for 69th in passing plays of 20 yards or more and 94th in passing yards per game. As much as he’s known for orchestrating explosive offenses, his offense was rather pedestrian last season.

But given Virginia Tech’s lack of experience in the secondary, I’d be surprised if Florida State struggles to create a successful offense. Bud Foster has zero film of Taggart and this collection of offensive players and we don’t even know who will start at quarterback for the ‘Noles. Florida State will have some offensive success, but will they have enough to knock off the Hokies?

I don’t feel as confident about this game as a I did prior to the offseason. So many things have happened that I think there’s simply too much for Virginia Tech to overcome, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

Tech’s only senior defensive back is off the roster. Their most experienced corner, Adonis Alexander, just got drafted by the Washington Redskins in the NFL’s Supplemental Draft. Tyrone Nix is still acclimating himself to his new role as safeties coach as he replaces Galen Scott. Virginia Tech is projected to start just two seniors on defense in 2018 — Ricky Walker and Vinny Mihota.

The offense did very little to instill confidence towards the end of last season, but Josh Jackson is healthy and the Hokies are far more experienced at receiver than they were last season. If Tech’s offense can score like they did vs. West Virginia last season, perhaps they can win this on the road. But there are too many worries on defense for me to bet on Virginia Tech to win this game.

I think it’s fair to lower the Hokies’ win projections for this season. As good as Bud Foster is, he lost a ton of talent and experience this offseason. It’s not fair to expect him to churn out elite-level defenses with little to work with.

It’d be different if the Hokies’ offense was a sure thing. Sure, Josh Jackson is more experienced, but his receivers are still inconsistent threats and it’s unknown if the running game will return to their late-2017 form. Virginia Tech returns three starters on the offensive line, but the losses of Wyatt Teller and Eric Gallo will be felt immensely.

Virginia Tech’s schedule isn’t remarkably difficult, but it isn’t smooth sailing either. Opening on the road vs. Florida State could set the tone for the season, positively or negatively. At Duke could prove to be a tough game, as it usually is. Notre Dame was one of the best teams in the country last season and North Carolina is out for revenge after getting stomped inside Lane Stadium last season.

Georgia Tech has beaten the Hokies three out of the last four seasons and the Hokies’ rendezvous with Miami looms in late November. There are plenty of tough games on the schedule. As of now, I’m thinking the Hokies will finish the regular season anywhere between 7-5 and 9-3. The over/under should probably be set at 8-4.

I’ve always thought people put too much stock into updated heights and weights, but there are some interesting nuggets of information that can be pulled out of the new numbers.

Devon Hunter is up to 222 pounds, which is a little larger than I think we all thought he’d get. He’s a physical freak as it is, and hopefully for the Hokies he hasn’t lost any of that athletic ability. As long as he can keep up with guys in the slot, he’ll be a great fit for the whip/nickelback position.

TyJuan Garbutt has filled out nicely as a defensive end. Garbutt enrolled at Tech around 215 pounds but has since grown to 244 pounds. There’s little doubt that he’s got enough size for the position and he’s got a real chance to play this season off the bench.

At 6-foot-4 and 258 pounds as a freshman, Jaevon Becton is likely moving inside later in his career. After a year with Ben Hilgart and Co., Becton could be pushing 270 pounds easy.

Cam Goode is 331 pounds, which is slightly over where he was on his official visit. Still, Goode moves well at this weight and if he sheds 10-15 pounds over the course of his career, he’s going to be a difference maker at defensive tackle. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Robert Porcher IV is still 260 pounds, which doesn’t bode well for his move inside to tackle.

Dax Hollifield is already 246 pounds, which is pretty incredible. I’m curious to see how he moves at that weight.

Offensive lineman Lecitus Smith enrolled around 275 pounds and is already up to 312 after his redshirt season. He’s uber-athletic for his size and I’m looking forward to him cracking the starting lineup in 2019.

Quincy Patterson came in at 231 pounds, which calms some of the speculation that he was getting too big. Hilgart will sculpt his body this season and if Patterson is able to sit for two seasons, he’ll be completely refined as an athlete.

Regarding your second question, Armani Chatman will actually start with the defensive backs. His number and position on the roster is inaccurate, so don’t expect him to be lining up in the slot anytime soon. That information comes from a pretty good authority, so trust me on this one. When the roster first comes out, there are always things that needs to be corrected.

I think the balance is power is just that — balanced. I don’t see any in-fighting or envy among the coaches. Justin Fuente doesn’t favor people over others and the “athlete” decisions are made according to what helps the team the most. Most of the athletes that have been signed in the last two classes have been assigned to defense and the best athlete of the group, Caleb Farley, moved back to defense this spring.

Monday Mail: What the Heck is Going On?

This edition of Monday Mail will be slightly different than normal, given this week’s circumstances. I only received one question this week, but there’s actually a big news item that we need to hit on.

Let us discuss this bomb that dropped at 8:13 a.m. on Monday morning.

That’s a pretty stern statement and one that has far-reaching consequences.

Mook Reynolds was listed on Virginia Tech’s 2018 Spring Football Medical Update, but as it turns out his absence this spring was not injury related. Reynolds was actually suspended during the semester. Well played, Virginia Tech Department of Strategic Communications…

Losing Reynolds is a major blow for a Virginia Tech defense that has been beat up all offseason long. Here’s a list of all the players from last year’s defense that will not be returning.

DB Adonis Alexander (declared ineligible)

DB Greg Stroman (graduation)

DB Brandon Facyson (graduation)

DB Terrell Edmunds (declared for NFL Draft)

DB Mook Reynolds (dismissed from team)

LB Tremaine Edmunds (declared for NFL Draft)

LB Andrew Motuapuaka (graduation)

DT Tim Settle (declared for NFL Draft)

That’s eight members from last season’s defense, seven of whom were starters, that are gone for various reasons. Oh, and let’s not forget that cornerback Jeremy Webb is out for the season with an Achilles injury and safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator Galen Scott was forced to resign from the team. Ouch.

Reynolds’ dismissal means that Virginia Tech’s secondary is about as young as it could possibly be. Rover Reggie Floyd will be the only defensive back with any significant playing experience and the only projected starter who’s a junior or a senior.

It also means that former blue-chip prospect Devon Hunter will get his shot. Hunter started this spring at Reynolds’ whip/nickelback position and held his own. With Reynolds out of the way, Hunter should assume that role permanently. Time will tell if he’s ready.

Defensive coordinator Bud Foster has his hands full this upcoming season. He’s replacing seven starters from last year’s impressive defense, and he’s doing so with two sophomore linebackers (Rayshard Ashby and Dylan Rivers) and four young defensive backs. If Foster can orchestrate a solid defense in 2018, Fuente might need to throw Foster another raise.

In news that doesn’t affect the team directly, my colleague Andy Bitter dropped his own bombshell this week.

Bitter is about as good as it gets. He’s been a mentor and an idol for me when it comes to being a sports writer. He’s professional and talented, and I’m looking forward to his next announcement on where he ends up.

Alright, let’s hit this week’s only question.

Josh Jackson isn’t a great runner but if you look at the numbers, his 46-yard run vs. West Virginia was Virginia Tech’s longest run of the season. Jackson averaged 4.02 yards per carry, excluding sacks, and was surprisingly efficient as a runner in 2017.

But as the season wore on, Jackson’s health deteriorated and it affected his play. Jackson doesn’t have a large frame as it is and throwing him into the fire more as a runner might bring more injuries in 2018.

As good as Ryan Willis or Hendon Hooker might be, and I believe both are markedly better than AJ Bush, I think Justin Fuente will avoid running Jackson consistently unless it becomes absolutely necessary. Jackson was the best freshman quarterback in the nation last season before getting hurt, and Fuente would prefer to keep the healthy version of Jackson around for the entire season.

Monday Mail: The Potential of Gameday in Tallahassee and an Early Look at the Depth Chart

Virginia Tech and Florida State have some tough competition for ESPN College GameDay this September.

Thank you again for submitting your questions this week. I really do enjoy interacting with you all and hopefully we can keep this thing going.

Without further ado, let’s hit the mail.

That’s actually a good question because there is no real favorite. A few guys can make a case for themselves, but a case can be made against them too.

The case for Sean Savoy is that he’ll be working out of the slot almost exclusively this season, where he excelled in 2017. Savoy was a consistent contributor in the first half of 2017 but as the season wore on, his impact lessened each week.

Eric Kumah is the exact opposite of Savoy. Kumah will play outside and found his rhythm later in the season, catching six passes for 82 yards vs. Georgia Tech in November and five passes for 72 yards and a touchdown vs. Oklahoma State in the Camping World Bowl. Kumah still does not have a 100-yard receiving game.

Hezekiah Grimsley played better in the latter part of 2017 as well, catching 11 passes for 119 yards in Virginia Tech’s final two games. Prior to that, he was not an impactful player.

Damon Hazelton was the favorite before dealing with an undisclosed injury that prevented him from participating much in spring practice. Hazelton caught 51 passes for 505 yards and four touchdowns for Ball State in 2016, but what will he do after sitting for over a year?

If Hazelton is healthy, I think he’ll be the Hokies leading receiver. He’s received the most praise from coaches and he’s had the most success at the collegiate level. Yes, it was at Ball State, but I have a feeling he’ll get the job done at the Power 5 level.

Virginia Tech needs at least two of these guys to step up in 2018. Tech needs to replace Cam Phillips’ production as best they can, and it likely won’t be replaced by just one receiver.

It’s certainly possible, but there are a few other games that might be a bigger draw in Week 1.

Tennessee and West Virginia are playing on Saturday, Sept. 1 at 3:30 p.m. at Bank of American Stadium in Charlotte. Those are two reputable programs playing in a city easy to get to. Expect it to be a good crowd.

Michigan and Notre Dame play at 7:30 p.m. on that Saturday as well, and that’s always a good draw. Louisville will lose to play Alabama in Orlando at 8 p.m. and that’s a good draw as well. Miami and LSU kick off their season at AT&T Stadium in Texas on Sunday and that’s a matchup of two premier programs.

Ultimately, I think Gameday will go elsewhere. There’s plenty of hype surrounding Willie Taggart at Florida State, but Miami and LSU in Jerry World would be my guess.


There’s a lot to unpack here. Let’s hit each position.

Starting quarterback: Josh Jackson

Backups: Ryan Willis, Hendon Hooker

Jackson’s academic issue has been resolved and he’s still on the team. Barring a Week 1 suspension, Jackson will take the first snap vs. Florida State.

Starting running back: Steven Peoples

Backups: Deshawn McClease, Jalen Holston

Peoples is the most versatile running back and also the most experienced. He might not garner a plurality of the carries, but he’ll get the nod to start the season. Look for McClease to assume this role later in 2018.

Starting wide receivers: Damon Hazelton, Eric Kumah and Sean Savoy

Backups: Hezekiah Grimsley, Phil Patterson, Kaleb Smith, Tre Turner, Darryle Simmons

Grimsley will see the field plenty in 2018 and might even start. But I’m expecting Hazelton, Kumah and Savoy to get the lion’s share of the reps at receiver.

Starting tight end: Dalton Keene

Backups: Chris Cunningham, Drake DeIuliis, James Mitchell

Virginia Tech will rotate these guys in and out until one of them stands out. Neither Keene nor Cunningham looked particularly dominant in 2017.

Starting offensive line: Yosuah Nijman, D’Andre Plantin, Kyle Chung, Braxton Pfaff, Silas Dzansi

Backups: TJ Jackson, Tyrell Smith, Zachariah Hoyt, Patrick Kearns, Christian Darrisaw

Dzansi spent most of the spring at left tackle, but I think they’ll want to move him to the right side during the season. Putting a redshirt freshman on a quarterback’s blind side is less than ideal.

Plantin held his own in 2017 and is ready to start. Chung will slide inside to his old position and Pfaff will stick at right guard. Tyrell Smith and TJ Jackson will probably battle it out for the “first guy off the bench” role.

Starting defensive line: Trevon Hill, Ricky Walker, Vinny Mihota, Houshun Gaines

Backups: Emmanuel Belmar, Jarrod Hewitt, Cam Goode, TyJuan Garbutt

The starting group is set. When healthy, this unit is a strength for Virginia Tech.

The reserves are good too, if Goode and Garbutt are ready to contribute. Goode should beat out Xavier Burke this summer and Garbutt seems to be the leader for the fourth defensive end role.

Starting linebackers: Rayshard Ashby, Dylan Rivers

Backups: Dax Hollifield, Jaylen Griffin

Ashby and Rivers are the most prepared to start Week 1. Hollifield could play himself into a starting role as the season goes on and Keshon Artis could work himself into the mix as well.

Starting cornerbacks: Bryce Watts, Tyree Rodgers

Backups: Jermaine Waller, Jovonn Quillen, Caleb Farley

Virginia Tech should give Mook Reynolds a run at cornerback. They need some talent and experience there and the move could allow the Hokies to play their best five defensive backs. This group is scary thin entering 2018.

Starting safeties: Divine Deablo, Reggie Floyd, Mook Reynolds (whip/nickel)

Backups: Devon Hunter, Khalil Ladler

Virginia Tech is in a much better position at safety. Deablo played well in 2017 before injuring his foot and Floyd looked like a stud at rover. Reynolds is an elite-level player who can play any position in the secondary.

If Reynolds moves to cornerback, look for Hunter to slide into the whip/nickelback role.

Few Spots Remain in Virginia Tech’s Class of 2019 After Commitments From Robinson and Pinckney

Virginia Tech’s Class of 2019 is filling up quickly. (Photo via @HokiesFB on Twitter)

Virginia Tech has peaked on the recruiting trail in recent weeks as several prospects have committed to the Hokies’ Class of 2019.

Tayvion Robinson and Jacoby Pinckney are the latest commitments for Virginia Tech, giving Justin Fuente two weapons in the passing game. The 5-foot-10 and 165-pound Robinson will fit nicely in the slot while the 6-foot-2 and 206-pound Pinckney will give the Hokies another taller option on the outside.

Virginia Tech now has three commitments from wide receivers, with Robinson and Pinckney joining Elijah Bowick. Between the three of them, and possibly athletes Jaden Payoute, Jahad Carter and Cam’Ron Kelly, Virginia Tech won’t be recruiting anymore receivers in this class.

In fact, Virginia Tech is likely winding down their recruiting for the entire 2019 class. The numbers are getting tight and with 12 commitments on board already, the Hokies only have a few more spots left.

The NCAA limits teams to 85 scholarship players. Here’s Virginia Tech’s projected scholarship situation heading into the 2019 season…

Quarterback (5) — Josh Jackson (R-Jr.), Hendon Hooker (R-So.), Ryan Willis (R-Sr.), Quincy Patterson (R-Fr. or So.), DeJuan Ellis (R-Fr. or So.)

Running back (6) — Jalen Holston (Jr.), Coleman Fox (R-Sr.), Terius Wheatley (R-So.), Caleb Steward (R-Fr. or So.), Deshawn McClease (R-Sr.), Cole Beck (R-Fr.)

Wide receiver (7) — Hezekiah Grimsley (Jr.), Phil Patterson (R-So.), Tre Turner (R-Fr. or So.), Damon Hazelton (R-Jr.), Sean Savoy (Jr.), Eric Kumah (Sr.), Darryle Simmons (R-Fr. or So.)

Tight end (4) — Dalton Keene (Jr.), Chris Cunningham (R-Sr.), Drake DeIuliis (R-So.), James Mitchell (R-Fr. or So.)

Offensive line (15) — Oscar Shadley (R-Fr. or So.), Patrick Kearns (R-Jr.), Aiden Brown (R-So.), Lecitus Smith (R-So.), Joe Kane (R-Fr. or So.), Silas Dzansi (R-So.), D’Andre Plantin (R-Sr.), TJ Jackson (R-Jr.), Zacariah Hoyt (R-Jr.), Jarrett Hopple (R-Jr.), Christian Darrisaw (R-Fr. or So.), Tyrell Smith (R-Sr.), Walker Culver (R-Fr. or So.), Luke Tenuta (R-Fr. or So.), John Harris (R-Fr. or So.)

Defensive line (14) — Houshun Gaines (R-Sr.), Zion DeBose (R-So.), Emmanuel Belmar (R-Jr.), Xavier Burke (R-Sr.), TyJuan Garbutt (R-So.), Eli Adams (R-Fr. or So.), Darius Fullwood (R-Sr.), Jarrod Hewitt (R-Jr.), Nathan Proctor (R-So.), Trevon Hill (R-Sr.), Jimmie Taylor (R-Jr.), Robert Porcher IV (R-So.), Cam Goode (R-Fr. or So.), Jaevon Becton (R-Fr. or So.)

Linebacker (7) — Rayshard Ashby (Jr.), Alan Tisdale (R-Fr. or So.), Rico Kearney (R-So.), Jaylen Griffin (R-Fr.), Dylan Rivers (Jr.), Dax Hollifield (R-Fr. or So.), Keshon Artis (R-Fr. or So.)

Defensive back (16) — Caleb Farley (R-So.), Bryce Watts (Jr.), Devon Hunter (Jr.), Khalil Ladler (R-Jr.), Divine Deablo (R-Jr.), DJ Crossen (R-Fr. or So.), Reggie Floyd (Sr.), Jovonn Quillen (Sr.), Jermaine Waller (R-Fr. or So.), Devante Smith (R-So.), Tyree Rodgers (R-Jr.), Nasir Peoples (R-Fr. or So.), Jeremy Webb (R-Jr.), Nadir Thompson (R-Fr. or So.), Armani Chatman (R-Fr. or So.), Chamarri Conner (R-Fr. or So.)

Kicker/punter (3) — Oscar Bradburn (Jr.), Jordan Stout (R-So.), Brian Johnson (R-Jr.)

Projected scholarship count for 2019 — 77 scholarships

Projected Class of 2019 size, excluding attrition and early declarations for NFL Draft — 9 scholarships

There could be a player or two that is no longer on scholarship, or a player or two that has been added on scholarship since their arrival, so these numbers may be slightly off. For this exercise, all three of Virginia Tech’s specialists are being counted as scholarship players.

Clearly, Virginia Tech is already over their open scholarship limit. Very few Hokies on this year’s team are seniors, and only a few underclassmen have a chance at being able to declare for next year’s NFL Draft.

Given that Virginia Tech can only take a few more players in this recruiting class, what positions should the Hokies emphasize?

Until Virginia Tech feels comfortable about their collective talent at running back, and I don’t believe they do, the coaches should continue to sign 1-2 running backs per class. Stuff as much talent in the pipe as you can and hope something good comes out on the other end. Virginia Tech has been after Jordan Houston for a while now and his versatility makes him a fit for Justin Fuente’s system. Tahj Gary is another possibility, as is NC State commit Jamious Griffin, the younger brother of Jaylen Griffin.

Defensive tackle must continue to be a priority. Norell Pollard will likely be a defensive tackle at Virginia Tech, but Fuente should add one or two more interior defensive linemen. The situation at tackle is rickety right now and when Ricky Walker leaves at the end of the year, it will be even worse. Mario Kendricks is very high on Tech, while Adarious Jones is another possibility. According to 247Sports, both Kendricks and Jones are scheduled to announce their decisions on Saturday, June 30.

Virginia Tech will be done recruiting this class very soon. Instead of working to sign three or four guys after the early signing period in December, the Hokies will likely have moved on almost entirely to the Class of 2020. It’ll be interesting to see how things play out over the next five months.

Monday Mail: Robinson Commits, Tech’s First National Title and the Third-Best Hokie

Class of 2019 athlete Tayvion Robinson announced his commitment to Virginia Tech on Sunday. (Graphic via @RobinsonTayvion on Twitter)

Alright folks, it’s Monday. Yes, that means you have to go back to work, but it also means you get to ready my Monday Mail. Not a fair trade, but it’s all I’ve got for you.

Before we get into the mail, Virginia Tech earned a commitment on Sunday from Tayvion Robinson. The 5-foot-10 and 165-pound athlete from Virginia Beach, Va. is rated as a four-star prospect by Rivals and as a three-star prospect by 247Sports and ESPN. Robinson is the 11th member of Virginia Tech’s 2019 class and is the fifth Tech commit from Virginia.

Robinson isn’t a headliner for the class, but the coaching staff is ecstatic about him. He’s a great fit for Virginia Tech’s offense and several Power 5 programs had their eye on Robinson. This is a solid pickup for Virginia Tech and it’s a continuing of the Hokies’ recent recruiting boost.

Now, let’s dive into this week’s Monday Mail.

I addressed this not too long ago, but I think this rule change is being overlooked. This is a monumental change for college football and it will alter how coaches recruit and manage their teams.

The best way to utilize this change seems to be getting freshmen playing time in situations when the game’s result is no longer in question. Up four scores vs. Old Dominion early in the season? Play some of the freshmen who might not be ready to contribute vs. the ACC. Dealing with a group of beat up running backs and trying to run the clock out? No worries, just insert Caleb Steward or Cole Beck for a series.

The change will also allow coaches to replenish their special teams ranks late in the season, as guys get dinged up more and more. Instead of trotting guys out there who need a break, throw in some of the freshmen who are healthy and need game experience.

All in all, this is a terrific rule change. It helps coaches play more guys while also making freshmen feel like they’re making an impact early in their careers.

This question is being asked more and more as Buzz Williams elevates the Virginia Tech men’s basketball program. I think the true answer might be another sport at Virginia Tech, but I’ll stick to this specific question.

There’s an argument to be made on both sides. On one hand, the same 10-15 football teams win the national title every season and unless you’re in that group, your chances are slim to none of winning.

On the other hand, the men’s basketball tournament is such a crapshoot that even if you’re a good team, the chances are you being upset in the early rounds are higher than ever. (See: UMBC vs. Virginia)

But for as much perceived parity as there is in college basketball, the same few teams win the national title each season. Here’s a list of the last 10 NCAA Tournament winners…

2018: Villanova

2017: North Carolina

2016: Villanova

2015: Duke

2014: Connecticut

2013: Louisville

2012: Kentucky

2011: Connecticut

2010: Duke

2009: North Carolina

See any non-blueblood programs there? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

I still believe Virginia Tech football has a greater chance of winning a national title before Virginia Tech men’s basketball. The program recruits better and has a better coaching staff that’s more likely to stick around. If Virginia Tech can catch Clemson and Miami on a down year, it’s realistic that a College Football Playoff berth is possible.

I’ll be shocked if Rayshard Ashby and Dylan Rivers aren’t starting at linebacker vs. Florida State. Rivers has been the heir apparent to Tremaine Edmunds since he signed as a member of the Class of 2017. He’s a former four-star prospect and came into his own this spring.

Ashby will be the starting mike linebacker by default. There simply isn’t anyone who’s ready to challenge him yet. Rico Kearney redshirted last season and Dax Hollifield just arrived on campus this month. Bud Foster doesn’t start true freshmen at linebacker and for good reason. Willie Taggart is a brilliant offensive mind and will surely have some tricks up his sleeve on Sept. 3. Those tricks are more likely to work against a guy making his career debut.

This is an interesting question. I’m a pretty young guy, so forgive me if I undervalue some of the older Hokies.

For me, this is a two-man discussion between Corey Moore and Tyrod Taylor. Both were legendary and transformative players that helped lead their teams to great achievements.

Moore was the linchpin in Virginia Tech’s 1999 defense, winning both the Lombardi Award and the Nagurski Trophy. Moore was named an All-American and won consecutive Big East Defensive Player of the Year awards in 1998 and 1999.

Moore was the heart and soul of that defense and gave quite the entertaining interview at the National Championship Game is New Orleans. Spoiler — he doesn’t like it all that much.

Taylor would be the most dynamic player in Virginia Tech history if it weren’t for Michael Vick. Taylor’s numbers are better in every imaginable way, but much of that is due to modern offenses. Taylor was exciting to watch in his four years in Blacksburg and though Virginia Tech couldn’t get over the ump while he was there, Tech fans will be forever thankful.

I think Moore has a slight edge here. Moore was arguably the best defensive player in the country as a senior and pushed Virginia Tech towards a National Championship Game appearance. Moore’s jersey is already retired and if Tech is smart, Taylor’s jersey will be retired in the near future.

As for Bruce Smith and Michael Vick, Vick is No. 1. Bruce Smith turned into the better NFL player, but Vick was the best and most consequential Virginia Tech player of all time.

Cam’Ron Kelly Headlines Recent Recruiting Rebound for Virginia Tech

Cam’Ron Kelly’s commitment to Virginia Tech on June 7 gave the Hokies the recruiting boost they needed. (Photo via @CamRonJKelly on Twitter)

Let us harken back to May 18, when Devyn Ford announced his commitment to Penn State.

Virginia Tech fans were disappointed and rightly so. The Hokies pursued Ford for several years and were still spurned for an out-of-state power. The explosive talent that Virginia Tech needed in the backfield eluded them once again.

But since then, Virginia Tech has rebounded nicely on the recruiting trail. Four Class of 2019 prospects have committed to Tech since Ford’s decision, helping to boost the Hokies’ rep.

Cam’Ron Kelly kicked things off on June 7, shocking the recruiting world by picking Virginia Tech over Penn State and Clemson. Kelly is a consensus four-star prospect from Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake, Va. and has quite the offer list. Kelly holds 41 scholarship offers, most of which are from Power 5 programs. The fact that Tech beat out Penn State and Clemson is impressive.

Kelly is an athlete but the 6-foot-1, 190-pound prospect is expected to play defensive back. Given Virginia Tech’s issues at cornerback, the Hokies could use some talent there.

Jaden Payoute was the next to join the Justin Fuente Faction. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound athlete was a late riser in the recruiting rankings, cracking the Virginia top-10 on the 247Sports Composite just this month. Payoute’s offer list is far less impressive than Kelly’s, but Boston College, Illinois, Pittsburgh and Tennessee all pulled the trigger. Payoute is rated as a four-star prospect by 247Sports and ESPN, so he’s scrub.

Virginia Tech’s next two commitments became public in the last week. Defensive lineman Norell Pollard and tight end Nick Gallo announced their commitments to Virginia Tech on Monday and Tuesday, bringing Tech’s Class of 2019 to 10 members. Pollard, a 6-foot-1 and 260-pound prospect from Apopka, Fla., will add some beef on the interior where they desperately need it. Gallo, the younger brother of former Tech offensive lineman Eric Gallo, holds 12 Power 5 offers while Pollard owns 17 Power 5 offers.

Sure, none of these prospects are five-star players or dynamic running back talents. However, all of these recruits are more than talented enough to make an impact in Blacksburg. It’s been quite the rebound for the Hokies since things came crashing down last month.

247Sports agrees. Virginia Tech’s Class of 2019 only ranks 29th in the country but eight of the teams ahead of them have a lower average rating per prospect. Tech’s class will be smaller than most, which will prevent them from climbing much higher, but each prospect that they’re adding has plenty of qualities to be excited about.

Virginia Tech’s Class of 2019 won’t be as good as some had hoped. But so far, it’s shaping up pretty darn well. And with targets like Tayvion Robinson and Adarious Jones still uncommitted, there’s plenty of room to grow.

Monday’s Mail: Thoughts on the Defensive Line, Tyrone Nix and Adonis Alexander’s Draft Stock

Thanks for reading folks. This is my first time ever holding a mailbag for my followers and I couldn’t be more excited. You all know how often I interact with you on Twitter and answering your questions each week gives me another opportunity to talk with you guys. Without further introduction, let’s see what you guys are thinking about this week.

The starting four of Virginia Tech’s defensive line should be solid. Trevon Hill, Vinny Mihota and Ricky Walker all return to the starting lineup in 2018, with Mihota moving inside to defensive tackle. The trio combined for 25.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks last season, so the group should produce. Mihota and Walker with both be seniors, while Hill will be a redshirt junior.

Even the new guy, Houshun Gaines, is an experienced player who produced off the bench last season. Gaines racked up seven tackles for loss and three sacks in 2017 and is entering his fourth year in the program. Virginia Tech’s starting group has the chance to be quite good.

As was the problem last season, Virginia Tech’s lack of depth at end and tackle could be an issue. On the edge, Virginia Tech will be relying on redshirt sophomore Emmanuel Belmar and redshirt freshmen Zion DeBose, TyJuan Garbutt and Nathan Proctor. Belmar does have some experience after playing in 10 games in 2017, but he’s far from a seasoned guy. DeBose, Garbutt and Proctor will all be playing their first season of college football.

The real problem lies on the interior. Virginia Tech’s third defensive tackle at the moment is Jarrod Hewitt, a redshirt sophomore with zero career sacks. Hewitt also played in 10 games last season, but as the season wore on the Hokies began to play Walker and Tim Settle almost exclusively. Behind Hewitt, Xavier Burke, Jimmie Taylor and Darius Fullwood will try to make their first impact of their careers.

The X-factor of this group is Cam Goode. The 6-foot, 317-pound freshman didn’t arrive in Blacksburg until this summer but given the Hokies’ lack of depth, Goode could play right away. He’ll certainly see the field, given the NCAA’s new redshirt rule, but how much will he see the field?

If this situation were to unfold, which I find rather unlikely, Hendon Hooker would start at quarterback vs. Florida State. Hooker would be the most experienced player on the roster and would likely be the only player prepared to run the offense.

If Josh Jackson is indeed unable to play this season, there’s a 99 percent chance that Willis would take over the starting role. Despite his inconsistent play in practice, Willis would give the Hokies their best chance to win. The players wouldn’t want anything else.

I think something else needs to be addressed — Quincy Patterson is not ready to start at quarterback. I know fans are uber excited about the stellar prospect,but people have to be patient. Patterson is as smart as they come, but he played in a very basic offense in high school and is a raw passer. As talented as Patterson is, he needs time to develop. Throw him into the fire too early, and you might spoil the whole dish.


For those who missed the news, Virginia Tech hired Tyrone Nix to take over as safeties coach. Nix has plenty of experience as a college coach, though very little working with defensive backs. Nix coached at Southern Miss from 1995-2004, working with the defensive tackles, outside linebackers, safeties and inside linebackers. Nix was hired by South Carolina in 2005 and served as co-defensive coordinator there for four seasons before leaving for Ole Miss’ defensive coordinator position.

Nix worked as the Rebel’s defensive coordinator from 2008-2011 and moved on to Middle Tennessee in 2012. Last season, Nix served as a senior analyst for Texas A&M.

Given the situation, I think Justin Fuente hired the best and most realistic option. Nix is well-versed as a coach and even though the overwhelming majority of his experience is with linebackers, Nix can realistically coach any position group on defense.

In terms of recruiting, we’ll find out if Nix can get it done. He’s got plenty of experience recruiting in the SEC, which isn’t a bad thing. But fans should give him a chance, and also understand that Virginia Tech doesn’t have the budget to hire any coach in the country that they want.

If Adonis Alexander is able to put his off-the-field issues behind him, he certainly has a chance to play in the NFL. He has the prototypical size to cover anyone in the league and if a coach takes the time to work with him, he’ll develop as a player. Alexander never reached his ceiling at Virginia Tech, partly due to his own mistakes, but he could get another chance in the NFL.

History doesn’t bode well for Alexander, in terms of being drafted. Just five players have been selected in the NFL Supplemental Draft since the start of the decade, with the last selection coming in 2015. None of these five players have had long and successful careers, even though Cleveland’s Josh Gordon certainly has the talent to do so.

Alexander will hold his pro day at Virginia Tech on Wed., June 20. Alexander’s agent, Andy Ross, says that Alexander will be meeting with teams prior to his workout and after, which shows teams are interested in the former Virginia Tech corner. The supplemental draft is expected to take place in July.

The Curious Case of Adonis Alexander

Virginia Tech
Adonis Alexander has been dismissed from Virginia Tech’s football team.

Few players in recent Virginia Tech memory have shown as much promise as a freshman as Adonis Alexander did in 2015.

Alexander made mistakes, sure, but he looked like a potential star at free safety. His four interceptions and six pass breakups made him a bright spot in Virginia Tech’s secondary. There was little doubt that by Alexander’s senior season, he would be the bedrock of Tech’s defensive backfield.

Fast forward to now, and he isn’t even on the team. Virginia Tech announced on Friday that Adonis Alexander is “no longer participating in team-related activities related to the Virginia Tech football program.”

“We wish Adonis the very best as he determines the next steps he wishes to pursue,” said head coach Justin Fuente in a written statement.

Later on Friday, Alexander released a statement through his new agent, Andy Ross, taking responsibility and announcing his decision to apply for the NFL supplemental draft.

“After last season, my family and I received positive feedback from the NFL, but I decided to return to Virginia Tech to make a run at the National Championship with my brothers. Unfortunately, I have been ruled academically ineligible for the upcoming season and have therefore decided to apply for the NFL’s Supplemental Draft.

“I take full responsibility for not taking care of my business in the classroom. I will use this tough lesson as motivation to get better and learn from my mistakes as I become a professional. I appreciate all the support VT’s coaches and athletic department have given to me during my time on campus. Thank you all again! Hokie for life!”

The news came along with the confirmation that JUCO transfer Jeremy Webb will miss the entire 2018 season due to a left Achilles injury. Virginia Tech is now in dire straits at cornerback and the Hokies’ most experienced option is no longer on the team.

Alexander’s departure from the team shouldn’t be surprising. In fact, we all should have seen this coming. Alexander’s career has been filled with missteps and mistakes, all of which have culminated in the end of his Virginia Tech career.

Doubt began to sink in when Alexander was suspended indefinitely after being charged with marijuana possession just days after the Hokies’ spring game in 2016.  Alexander, as well as defensive end Houshun Gaines, were both reinstated to the team in July 2016 but suspended for the Hokies’ opener vs. Liberty.

Alexander’s second faux pas came at the beginning of the 2017 season, when Alexander was unofficially suspended for Virginia Tech’s games vs. East Carolina and Old Dominion.

“We will continue to uphold the exemplary standards of Virginia Tech football,” Fuente said in a statement. “Integrity, trust and teamwork remain the foundation of this program and that will not change. Adonis has not lived up to our expectations at Virginia Tech. He will continue practicing and participating in team activities. Our staff will continue to monitor his progress and evaluate his progress going forward.”

Alexander returned for the Hokies’ showdown vs. Clemson but never broke into the starting lineup. Alexander battled a nagging injury later in the year and entering this past spring, Alexander was hoping to find his footing once again. Virginia Tech desperately needed him to rebound, given the Hokies’ lack of depth at cornerback.

Instead, Alexander missed Virginia Tech’s spring game. Fuente announced the news just days prior, citing an injury and academic issues.

“Adonis has got — he’s a little nicked up and then working on school,” Fuente said.

Behind the scenes, there were serious concerns about Alexander’s academic standing. Even if he got himself healthy, would Alexander be eligible for the Hokies’ season-opener vs. Florida State on Sept. 3?

As it turns out, this final blunder was the last straw for Alexander. Despite the vague language, it seems like Alexander has played his final snap for the Hokies and that a transfer is more likely. Even more likely, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, is that Alexander will declare for the NFL Supplemental Draft. (UPDATE: Alexander has signed with NFL agent Andy Ross, who also represents former Virginia Tech players Tim Settle and Wyatt Teller.)

Players are rarely selected in the supplemental draft. Clemson’s Isaiah Battle was selected in 2015, but no one has been taken since then. Before that, the last supplemental draft pick was Baylor’s Josh Gordon in 2012.

Alexander has desirable tools. He’s experienced and athletic but for many teams, the off-the-field issues may take him out of the equation. Alexander deserves credit for taking full responsibility for his current situation. Not many young men would have the courage to come out and admit that it’s their fault. But he also deserves blame for putting himself in this situation.

If Alexander is picked, many will proclaim his time at Virginia Tech as a success. But in reality, it’s clear that Alexander has things he must work on. No one questions his talent. At 6-foot-3 and 207 pounds, Alexander is a prototypical defensive back. He’s a high-level athlete and has a knack for getting his hands on the ball.

But all the talent in the world can’t keep him on the field. Alexander must fix his problems off the field before his true potential can be realized. For his sake, let’s hope he gets back on the right path soon.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been amended to reflect Alexander’s statement and decision to declare for the NFL’s Supplemental Draft.)

The Devyn Ford Decision and What It Means for Virginia Tech’s Future

Class of 2019 running back Devyn Ford announced his commitment to Penn State on Friday. (Photo via @TsunamiFord on Twitter)

May 18, 2018 has come and gone, and Class of 2019 running back Devyn Ford is not a Hokie. Instead, Ford is heading to Penn State.

The news isn’t good for Virginia Tech. The Hokies’ coaching staff put a ton of time into this recruitment. For the last several years, members of the Virginia Tech staff have been in contact and developing a relationship with Ford. But Ford won’t be driving to Blacksburg any time soon.

What does this mean for the Virginia Tech football program? Let’s look at this decision from a few different angles.

Where did this go wrong?

The answer is unclear. Ford seemed to be a “Virginia Tech lean” for most of his recruitment but after his official visit to Penn State on April 21, the landscape seemed to shift. Just a few weeks later, Ford announced his commitment to the Nittany Lions.

Virginia Tech poured their heart and soul into Ford’s recruitment. The Hokies likely spent an astonishing amount of money and time on recruiting Ford over the last few years, making countless trips to North Stafford High School and to Ford’s home.

Virginia Tech did not lose this recruitment due to a lack of effort. The Hokies made it clear to Ford that he was their prime target in the Class of 2019. Virginia Tech hasn’t recruited many running backs in this class prior to Ford’s decision and given the Hokies’ unimpressive depth chart at the position, Ford could have started right away.

Instead, Ford chose to sit behind former five-star recruit Miles Sanders and freshman five-star prospect Ricky Slade.

In-state recruiting issues

Speaking of Ricky Slade, Virginia Tech has a clear problem recruiting in the state of Virginia, particularly when it comes to the elite prospects in the state.

Starting with the Class of 2016, Virginia Tech has landed one top-five prospect from Virginia — defensive back Devon Hunter. Every other top-five prospect from the state has gone elsewhere.

A few of these prospects are more disappointing than others. In 2017, Virginia Tech missed out on running back Khalan Laborn (Florida State) and defensive end Jordan Williams (Clemson). In 2018, Tech missed out on running back Ricky Slade (Penn State), linebacker Teradja Mitchell (Ohio State) and offensive lineman Nana Asiedu (Penn State). Virginia Tech recruited each of these prospects heavily and failed to land any of them or in some cases, failed to even generate mutual interest.

The failures at running back have set the Hokies’ offense back in more ways than one. Virginia Tech doesn’t have a running back on the roster that can do multiple things well, or even a running back that does one thing really well. Sure, Virginia Tech’s rushing attack improved towards the end of last season but that doesn’t erase Tech’s 54th-best rushing attack in 2017.

Virginia Tech has prioritized three elite-level running backs in each of the last three recruiting cycles — Laborn, Slade and Ford — and has missed on all three of them. These failures on the recruiting trail have begun to affect the on-field product and will continue to affect the product for the next few seasons.

Devyn Ford took his official visit to Virginia Tech on April 14. (Photo via @TsumaniFord on Twitter)

Patience is needed

Recruiting at an elite level doesn’t usually happen overnight, especially when your campus is nestled in the mountains far away from a burgeoning area like Washington D.C. or Raleigh, N.C. The fact of the matter is that it takes a certain kind of person to want to spend four to five years in a town like Blacksburg.

Virginia Tech is in the process of a rebuild. Frank Beamer left talent in the cupboard but there were glaring problems with the program’s foundation. Just like repairing an old house, these things take time.

That said, the Class of 2019 was supposed to be the time where Virginia Tech’s long-term relationships with recruits would start to produce results. Justin Fuente and Co. have been recruiting Devyn Ford for a long time now and don’t have many excuses for why they were unable to secure Ford’s commitment. Make no mistake about it, this is a major setback for Virginia Tech.

However, one can’t paint the entire Virginia Tech picture with a gloomy color. The Hokies have had mild success on the recruiting trail since Fuente’s arrival in Blacksburg. In each of the last two recruiting cycles, the Hokies have hit on their top target. In the 2017 class, Virginia Tech signed Devon Hunter. In the 2018 class, the Hokies signed blue-chip linebacker Dax Hollifield. Virginia Tech placed just outside the top-25 recruiting classes in 2017, per the 247Sports Composite rating, and finished 24th in 2018. Progress is being made, even if it is slow progress.

Summing it all up

Devyn Ford’s commitment to Penn State is a blow to Virginia Tech. The Hokies put most of their eggs into the Ford basket and lost. Ford’s decision to go to Penn State also highlights an even bigger problem for the Hokies — the constant draining of Virginia talent by other schools. Virginia Tech is struggling to sign the top recruits in the state and this will prevent Tech from taking the next step as a program.

The solution is to win. Tech’s juggernaut program of the late 1990’s and 2000’s wasn’t built on consistently signing four and five-star prospects. It was built on three-star prospects who were developed into productive players. This is the path that Fuente and the Hokies must take. Just like Beamer, Fuente must figure out how to do more with less for the time being.

If Fuente can build a consistent winner in Blacksburg, he’ll gain more credibility on the recruiting trail. Fuente needs to hover around the 10-win mark each season and pick up some marquee wins, starting with Florida State this season. Virginia Tech will never be a flashy, sexy program. But neither is Wisconsin, and the Badgers are one of the best programs in the country.

In the immortal words of the late Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, “Just win, baby!”

How Does Virginia Tech’s Josh Jackson Compare to the Rest of the ACC’s Quarterbacks?

An abundance of criticism was hurled at Josh Jackson during and after the 2017 season. Some of it was warranted, while some of it frivolous. But it’s hard to find a Virginia Tech fan who doesn’t have a strong opinion of Jackson these days, whether it’s positive or negative.

There were plenty of reasons to be impressed. As a redshirt freshman, Jackson completed just under 60 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,991 yards, 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Jackson took care of the football generally, while avoiding unnecessary risks. He was a serviceable runner and even had the Hokies’ longest run of the season — a 46-yard scamper vs. West Virginia.

With the good came the bad. Jackson failed to produce against Clemson or Miami in 2017, throwing two interceptions in each of those two games. Jackson struggled down the stretch, throwing for 200 yards or more in just three of the Hokies’ final seven games. Sure, Jackson was dealing with multiple unspecified injuries — believed to be foot, shoulder and elbow injuries — but the production was absent for most of the stretch run.

Jackson should improve in 2018 and Athlon seemed to be banking on that in their recent rankings of each starting FBS quarterback for 2018. Jackson was ranked as the 19th-best quarterback in the country and the second-best signal caller in the ACC, behind only NC State’s Ryan Finley. Here is Athlon’s ranking of ACC quarterbacks.

No. 13 – Ryan Finley, NC State

No. 19 – Josh Jackson, Virginia Tech

No. 20 – Kelly Bryant, Clemson

No. 23 – Eric Dungey, Syracuse

No. 30 – James Blackman, Florida State

No. 38 – Daniel Jones, Duke

No. 39 – Malik Rosier, Miami

No. 40 – TaQuon Marshall, Georgia Tech

No. 62 – Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

No. 63 – Jawon Pass, Louisville

No. 65 – Kendall Hinton, Wake Forest

No. 69 – Anthony Brown, Boston College

No. 74 – Chazz Surratt, North Carolina

No. 98 – Bryce Perkins, Virginia

According to Athlon, as far as the ACC is concerned, Virginia Tech couldn’t do much better than having Jackson as their starting quarterback. I do believe Jackson is one of the better starting quarterbacks in the ACC, but I would drop him one spot in my rankings. Here’s how I view the ACC’s starting quarterbacks heading into the 2018 season.

  1. Ryan Finley, NC State

Finley is tied for the most experience in the ACC, in terms of number of games played, and has been the most consistent throughout his career. The former Boise State transfer has two years of starting experience under his belt with the Wolfpack, completing 63 percent of his passes while throwing for 35 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions. Finley won’t have the reliable Jaylen Samuels to help him in 2018, but he should still be a productive and consistent quarterback.

  1. Eric Dungey, Syracuse

In terms of numbers, Dungey is the best quarterback in the conference. But given that his numbers are inflated by Dino Babers’ Air Raid-style attack, I’ll slot him right here. The rising senior is a talented thrower and runner and runs Syracuse’s offense efficiently. Injuries have been an issue but when he’s on the field, few quarterbacks in the country can put up similar numbers. He’s thrown for 29 touchdowns in just 18 games over the last two seasons and has a career passer rating of 131.5.

  1. Josh Jackson, Virginia Tech

Jackson’s skill set is suited for the Hokies’ offense, given his intelligence and advanced understanding of the scheme. He may be limited physically, but he will improve in 2018. He should have a slightly more productive rushing attack to lean on and the offensive line should be solid once again. Jackson should hit the 3,000-yard mark this season.

  1. Daniel Jones, Duke

Jones struggled at times during 2017, specifically against Virginia when he completed just 14 of his 42 pass attempts for 124 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. However, with the team healthier than they were at any point last season, Jones should find his form again. Remember, as a freshman, Jones completed nearly 63 percent of his passes and threw 16 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. He’s a threat with his legs as well, with 14 career rushing touchdowns.

  1. Malik Rosier, Miami

Perhaps I have Rosier too low, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the Rosier we saw later in the season is closer to the real Malik Rosier, rather than the one we saw for the early portions of the season. Miami was loaded last year and both Braxton Berrios and Christopher Herndon are now in the NFL. Rosier is an explosive runner but faltered down the stretch last season. Rosier failed to complete more than 49 percent of his passes in each of his final three games and threw a combined five interceptions to Clemson and Wisconsin. He should improve somewhat as a senior, but I don’t believe he’ll be better than any of the four passers ahead of him.

  1. Kelly Bryant, Clemson

Clemson made the College Football Playoff in spite of Bryant, not because of him. He completed a high percentage of his passes last season (65.8 percent) but threw just 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions. I think the numbers paint a better picture of Bryant than my personal impressions, so maybe he proves me wrong this season. But before he does that, he’ll need to hold off five-star freshman Trevor Lawrence.

  1. James Blackman, Florida State

Blackman had no business starting last season. The fact that he was Florida State’s best option after Deondre Francois went down at the beginning of last season should reflect poorly on the Seminoles’ quarterback depth in 2017. Nonetheless, Blackman was serviceable as a true freshman, completing 58.2 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,230 yards, 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on a losing team. Blackman might not even start this season, given that Francois was a talented passer in 2016 and showed flashes of being an elite quarterback. Whoever wins this job should be more than capable.

  1. TaQuon Marshall, Georgia Tech

Marshall is the perfect fit for the Yellow Jackets’ offense. He’s undersized but quick and agile. He can run as well as Georgia Tech’s tailbacks and can even hit throws over the top for big plays. Just ask the Virginia Tech secondary.

  1. Chazz Suratt, North Carolina

Surratt was clearly North Carolina’s best option at quarterback for most of 2017, though for some reason head coach Larry Fedora kept trying to give Brandon Harris another opportunity. Nathan Elliott emerged later on in the season, throwing 10 touchdowns in the Tar Heels’ final five games. Here’s another quarterback competition that should produce at least a capable option.

  1. Kendall Hinton, Wake Forest

Hinton is a junior with 243 pass attempts already under his belt. John Wolford was a highly productive quarterback in 2017 and even though Hinton could follow in his footsteps, he hasn’t been nearly as successful. Hinton’s career completion percentage is 53.9 percent and he’s thrown just eight touchdowns to six interceptions.

  1. Jawon Pass, Louisville

No one should expect Pass to replicate Lamar Jackson’s video game numbers, but Pass has been decent in limited work. He’s completed 22 of his 33 career pass attempts for 238 yards and two touchdowns and has a rushing touchdown as well. He’s inexperienced, sure, but the former four-star quarterback has plenty of talent.

  1. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

Pickett started Pittsburgh’s final two games and though he wasn’t particularly good, he showed flashes of being a quality quarterback. He can create with his legs and is a capable passer. Pittsburgh will need him to take a massive step forward in his sophomore season.

  1. Anthony Brown, Boston College

Brown showed flashes in his first season but simply wasn’t all that good. He completed 51.9 percent of his throws for 1,367 yards in 10 games. Brown had a breakout game vs. Virginia in late October 2017, but the rest of his inaugural campaign was inconsistent.

  1. Bryce Perkins, Virginia

Kurt Benkert was much better as a senior in 2017, helping the ‘Hoos make their first bowl game since 2011. Unfortunately for Virginia, their bowl chances may hinge on a JUCO transfer that didn’t do much at that level. Perkins struggled while at Arizona Western College in 2017, throwing seven touchdowns and eight interceptions while rushing for another four scores. Time will tell if Perkins can be more productive at the Power 5 level than he was at the JUCO level.