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.
— Virginia Tech Football (@VT_Football) July 9, 2018
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.
Back from vacation with some personal news to share: today is my last day at the @roanoketimes.
I’m not going far, so don’t unfollow. I’ll be able to share more details soon.
— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) July 6, 2018
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.
With a solid QB backup this season, will Fuente run JJ more this year?
— Mark Turner (@mytvt3) July 8, 2018
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.