BLACKSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Year one for Justin Fuente went about as well as anyone could have hoped. The Virginia Tech Hokies won the ACC’s Coastal Division and gave eventual National Champion Clemson fits in the ACC Championship Game. The league named Fuente Coach of the Year. The Hokies won the Belk Bowl and ended the season ranked in the AP Top 25.
Then underclassmen started leaving for the NFL Draft. Tight end Bucky Hodges and wide receiver Isaiah Ford were expected to go, but when junior college transfer quarterback Jerod Evans declared for the draft with one year of eligibility remaining, that was a surprise. With the graduation of senior Brenden Motley, the Hokies were left with only inexperienced options to fill Evans’s spot.
Of Fuente’s three options for signal caller, only one has anything close to what could be called experienced in the second year coach’s system. Josh Jackson redshirted in 2016, meaning he practiced with the team all season but did not use up a year of eligibility. Jackson said he gained valuable experience watching Evans lead the Hokie offense, but he’s never taken a snap in a game that counted.
Former Nebraska quarterback A.J. Bush spent 2016 at a junior college in Iowa. He is an admirer of what Fuente was able to do with Bronco’s quarterback Paxton Lynch when both were at Memphis, but his first experience in Blacksburg and with Fuente’s offense has been this spring.
Believe it or not, there’s one quarterback option with even less experience. Hendon Hooker was playing high school football in North Carolina in 2016. He graduated early from Dudley High School in Greensboro in order to enroll early at Virginia Tech. Hooker had never participated in any spring program until this season.
The Virginia Tech spring game is Saturday in Blacksburg. Whichever one of those quarterbacks performs the best should have the inside track on the starting job.