The Locker Room
By Dan Callahan
The annual “Maroon and White” spring football game will take place at Virginia Tech in Lane Stadium in Blacksburg Saturday, at least they call it a game, but it’s really not, but such often happens in the spring. It will be the offense vs. the defense, it will be four, 12-minute quarters with a continuous clock, and defenders are not allowed to tackle the quarterback. So it will not really be like a game, there are concerns about depth in certain areas of the team, so this glorified practice will be quick, and hopefully injury free.
Still, it is important, and you can expect a lot of dedicated Hokie fans to show up, tailgate, enjoy the spring weather, and get a bit of a preview to what will be this fall the 125th season of football at Virginia Tech. It’s a season that will see the Hokies play the defending national champion for the third time in five years, and head coach Justin Fuente already has new extended contract, and a raise.
There are areas of concern about this Hokie team, but all eyes will be on the quarterback Saturday when the glorified practice gets underway at 2:30. Tech does not have a quarterback that has ever taken a snap in a live game. I think the best bet is Josh Jackson, a red-shirt freshman, some like true freshman Herndon Hooker. Transfer A.J. Bush will also get snaps. Many of the concerns involve the skill positions, quarterback, wide receiver, running back. Saturday will be a preview.
The upcoming season promises to be interesting with an opener in Landover at Fed Ex Field against West Virginia, then comes a home game with defending national champion Clemson, and Carolina at home, Miami on the road, Pitt at home, and there’s always the Virginia game. The 2018 schedule is also interesting for the Hokies and it will begin on the road at Florida State for a big Labor Day Weekend game, there’s also Notre Dame, Miami, Carolina, Pitt, and UVa. The 2020 season looks really interesting if you want to look that far ahead and there will be games against Penn State, Michigan, Miami, Carolina, Louisville, Pitt, and UVa.
Graham’s Records Likely to Fall:
Former Pulaski County great Shayne Graham’s impact with his kicking career at Virginia Tech was substantial to say the least. But his numbers are very likely to drop this coming season. Hokie kicker Joey Slye needs only six field goals to pass Shayne’s career record. He has 63, and 51 points will allow Slye to pass Graham as the all-time leading scorer in Tech football history.
Not Much Local Impact:
There are only six players from the area on the Tech roster this season, and most of those are walk-ons. Salem High has three; Coleman Fox is a red-shirt sophomore backup running back, Zach Hoyt a red-shirt freshman backup offensive lineman, and Colton Taylor is a red-shirt senior backup linebacker. Galax is likely to have the one area player to see the most playing time in junior fullback Steven Peoples. George Wythe has a backup red-shirt sophomore running back Trey Skeens, and Blacksburg’s Jack Treser is a red-shirt senior backup linebacker.
This is a constant issue these days. The Hokies are presently rated 32nd in the country with its 2018 class, but that means very little at this point. It’s way too early to assess anything unless you happen to be about a dozen very high rollers who annually get a jump on the rest of the country in recruiting. You know who those schools are.
Tech has five commitments to date, all are three-star recruits. Two of them are quarterbacks; Quincy Patterson of Chicago and DeJuan Ellia of Maryland. Two of them are defensive backs; Nasil Peoples of Pennsylvania and Chamarri Conner of Florida. The fifth recruit is Bryce Thompson, a wide receiver from South Carolina.
The Cavaliers are calling their spring game a “Festival.” It will be next Saturday at 3 pm in Scott Stadium in Charlottesville. Admission will be free, and there will be youth activities before the final scrimmage of the spring. There are also depth concerns with UVa.
The Wahoos are currently rated 45th in recruiting, but again, this is too early to assume anything good or bad. UVa has three commitments, all three are 3-star recruits. Wyatt Rector is a quarterback from Florida, Javar Garrett a linebacker from Jersey, and Noah Taylor a linebacker from Maryland.
Heckuva Year for the Carolinas:
It would be hard for it to get much better. Consider this. Clemson won the national championship in football. North Carolina won the national championship in basketball. South Carolina just won the girls national title in basketball. And now as the regional playoffs approach and College World Series is on the near horizon, we are reminded that Coastal Carolina is the defending champ in baseball. And that is a heckuva year.