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.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last week, Virginia Tech has alleviated any and all concerns about their depth at quarterback. Hendon Hooker is returning to Blacksburg and former four-star recruit Braxton Burmeister is transferring from Oregon.

Virginia Tech has now gone from just two scholarship quarterbacks prior to Signing Day to five — Ryan Willis, Quincy Patterson, Hooker, Burmeister and Knox Kadum. Five scholarship arms is more than enough.

Burmeister comes to Tech in a similar situation to when Willis came to Virginia Tech prior to the 2017 season. He’s a rising junior who has yet to graduate, so it’s likely he’s going to sit for 2019. Burmeister played in seven games as a freshman and five games as a sophomore, completing 56.3 percent of his throws for 373 yards, two touchdowns and six interceptions. Obviously, that’s not very good. For what it’s worth, Burmeister has three career rushing touchdowns.

Past this coming season, I expect Patterson to be the favorite for the starting job with Hooker and Burmeister fighting to take that spot. Patterson will be entering his third season in the program by that point and should be advanced enough in his development to take over the starting role. Burmeister has a lot of catching up to do and Hooker is behind the curve in his progression.

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Either Hooker or Burmiester could take the starting role, but it’s hard to predict that at this point. Patterson is in the driver’s seat for the 2020 season and depending on how things go he could start this year. No matter how things work out, Virginia Tech is in a far better position at quarterback than they were just a few weeks ago.

Justin Fuente is many things, but immature is not one of them. He’s about as professional as they come and he understands and appreciates the rights of athletes to pursue their careers elsewhere.

Two players have entered the transfer portal and since retracted their names — Hooker and Deshawn McClease. Since leaving the portal, the team has welcomed them back with open arms.

I have a hard time believing that Fuente and his coaching staff will punish these players or treat them differently. There haven’t been any rumblings that either was reprimanded privately and both are still presumably on scholarship.

One thing Fuente might do is force these players to earn their former spots on the depth chart. For someone like McClease, who was the presumed starter at running back heading into 2019, Fuente might put him at the back of the line and make him fight his way back to the top. Fuente is known for making players earn their opportunities and this could be no different.

For Hooker, he’s already near the bottom of the depth chart at quarterback, but he’s no doubt fallen even further behind Willis and Patterson by missing winter workouts.

In short, I doubt Fuente would unduly penalize players for entering the portal and returning to the team. That could change if circumstances change, like if a player trashed the team publicly before asking to come back. I’m sure Fuente wouldn’t have a problem telling those players they no longer have a role on the team. Every coach in America is still trying to figure out this transfer portal chaos, and Fuente’s approach will no doubt evolve over time.

I find this to be a fascinating question. College football is changing by the minute and transfers are forcing players and coaches to adapt their strategies.

Power 5 programs are likely already viewing Group of 5 and FCS programs as minor league teams. Virginia Tech plucked Damon Hazelton from Ball State not too long ago and I’m sure that if I did some more research, I’d find that isn’t the only example.

With that said, I don’t think we’ll ever see Group of 5 or FCS programs partner with Power 5 teams and serve as farm teams for college football’s premier programs. There currently would be no incentive for Group of 5 and FCS programs to play that role and many Group of 5 teams are hoping to eventually make their way into the Power 5 level anyway.

What would this situation look like? Imagine Virginia Tech running “farm schools” like Virginia Military Institute (FCS) and Old Dominion (Group of 5), where VMI and ODU send their best players every year to Virginia Tech. The Hokies could send guys like Jalen Holston or Darryle Simmons to Old Dominion for a few weeks before calling them back up if their performance warrants it. Doesn’t that just sound weird? I much prefer the idea of schools bringing back junior varsity teams.

The idea would certainly help the Power 5 teams maintain dominance and make their teams better, but the idea is antithetical to what college football is supposed to be and if it were to eventually happen, it would be severely disappointing. The Power 5 is already become an autonomous power circle. Let’s hope the Group of 5 conferences and FCS programs refuse to help them solidify that conglomerate.

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