Monday Mail: A Brand New Quarterback Situation, Devon Hunter’s Predicament and More

Before we jump into today’s Monday Mail, let’s hit on a few housekeeping items.

First, Virginia Tech is ranked once again. The Hokies reentered the AP Top 25 after knocking off then-ranked No. 22 in Durham. The Hokies are now 24th in the country, fourth in the ACC behind No. 4 Clemson, No. 17 Miami and No. 23 NC State.

Also, Virginia Tech’s kickoff time vs. North Carolina has been announced. The Hokies’ road trip to Chapel Hill will start at 7 p.m. and will be televised on either ESPN2 or ESPNU.

Lastly, the Hokies’ athletic department is taking this weekend as an opportunity to thank Frank Beamer for his contributions to Virginia Tech. More plans are in the works apparently, but Tech is slated to reveal a monument to Beamer at the Moody Plaza outside Lane Stadium on Saturday. The revelation will take place at 4:45 p.m. and fans are encouraged to attend.

Alright, let’s answer some questions.

I think it’s a bit early for these questions. Ryan Willis has started one game. Sure, he played well in that one game, but he’s only started once for the Hokies.

But, for the sake of this article, let’s say Willis continues to light it up and leads the Hokies to a successful season. He doesn’t need to lead the Hokies to a conference championship, but let’s say Willis plays well and helps Tech win nine or 10 games.

At the end of this season, Willis will have one more season of eligibility remaining. Josh Jackson, who has already used his redshirt season, will have two seasons remaining before applying for a sixth season. Jackson would likely be granted that season, thanks to his injury that could very well sideline him for the season.

If Jackson was granted that extra season, he could transfer and sit out a year, and then have two seasons left at his new school. If Willis does indeed take the reins of this offense and run with it, I think a Jackson transfer is the likely scenario.

Think about it — why would a quarterback who lead his team to a nine-win season in his first year sit on the bench for another season and wait for Willis to leave? That would be wasting Jackson’s career. And when Willis finally did leave, Jackson would have to compete with the younger and more talented Hendon Hooker and Quincy Patterson.

Again, it’s really early to game out this scenario. But if Willis plays well and earns the starting role moving forward, Jackson will have little reason to stick around. If Willis has an up and down season, which I think is more likely, then Jackson will get a chance to reclaim his job.

With Devon Hunter only seeing the field on special teams, is there any word on plans to use him for more than that? Tech didn’t redshirt him and now he only has 2 seasons of eligibility left with Ladler, the man in front of him, having the same number of seasons remaining. I know he saw time against ODU in Deablo’s absence. He’s not going to be a career backup, is he? – Pete McGee (@Greg0r0vitch)

Every time I talk about Devon Hunter,  I upset some people.

Hunter has been used on special teams and as a rotational player at times on defense, but that’s it. Hunter did see a lot of time at whip vs. Old Dominion, but Divine Deablo’s return to free safety has bumped Khalil Ladler back to whip.

Fans shouldn’t expect Hunter to play a significant role this season. He’s not going to supplant Ladler at this point in the year. Hunter will continue providing depth in the secondary and he’ll play a role on special teams, but that’s it.

I wrote before the season that Hunter’s spot on the depth chart worried me about his career arc. I still have all of those concerns. As gifted as Hunter is at 6-feet and 225 pounds, he just isn’t good enough to see the field consistently. I think we all thought he would have been playing a larger role in his sophomore season than he is right now.

There’s obviously still time for Hunter to develop into a contributor. But that time is ticking away, and Hunter isn’t making much progress. For now, Hunter is still just untapped potential.

Let’s talk some more about quarterbacks.

Hendon Hooker saw the field some on Saturday, coming into the game exclusively to either hand the ball off or to run it himself. Hooker carried the ball twice for zero yards.

I like the idea of giving Hooker a package. He’s a dynamic athlete that can flip a game with his ability. But Hooker becomes less useful if all Tech is going to do is run the ball when he’s in the game.

Virginia Tech will eventually need to complete a pass with Hooker on the field to keep defenses honest. I’m generally not a fan of the two-quarterback scenario, but when your backup is the new starter, that kind of goes out the window. If Hooker is to be effective, offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen will need to call some passing plays out of that formation to keep the defense from putting 11 defenders in the box.

Hooker gives Virginia Tech something that Willis doesn’t have — supreme athleticism. The Hokies should find a way to take advantage of that vs. Notre Dame.

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