With summer workouts on the horizon, there is still no real word on who could emerge as the Hokies’ starter under center next season. In this position preview, we will look at the profiles of the three most likely candidates for the starting QB job.
While none of these Quarterbacks have any experience playing at the Division 1 level, Jackson may be the most knowledgeable about the offense Fuente runs. After enrolling early in 2016, Jackson spent the year redshirting.
Coming out of high school, Josh Jackson was highly anticipated. According to HokieSports, ESPN ranked him as a 4 star recruit and listed him in their well known “Top 300” at 184th overall. Additionally, he was nominated for the Michigan Player of the Year Award for his senior season.
After Evans sudden departure to the NFL, Jackson’s name was probably the most mentioned as the presumed successor. This continued into the spring, when Jackson was the first QB on the field in the spring game.
Despite “throwing a consistently accurate deep ball” and having a “command of the offense” (according to our own Mike McDaniel), Fuente stressed that the order of the quarterbacks’ appearances in the Spring Game meant nothing and that no one had emerged as a leader in the race.
More from Fighting Gobbler
- Virginia Tech women’s basketball getting preseason respect
- Virginia Tech Football: Predicting how the Hokies will finish 2023
- Virginia Tech Football: Mixed results on injury news for Hokies defense
- How to Win $350 in DraftKings Bonuses Betting on College Football Week 4
- Former Virginia Tech lineman had hilarious moment Monday night
Nonetheless, Jackson certainly seemed calm and capable of leading this Hokies team in the only true glimpse we’ve gotten of him. He finished the Spring Game 4-for-8 with 67 yards.
The second QB fighting for the job is true freshman Hendon Hooker. Though Hooker is the youngest of the bunch, he may have the highest ceiling.
Coming out of high school, Hooker certainly has plenty of raw talent. He was ranked 8th overall in the state of NC by 247 Sports, and he led Dudley to a State Championship in his senior season.
Hooker impressed possibly even more than Jackson in the Spring Game. He went 10-for-11 and threw for 115 yards, including a TD pass to fellow freshman Dalton Keane. His poise was even more impressive considering that he is a year younger than Jackson.
At 6-4, 204, Hooker certainly has plenty of height. However, he could probably afford to put on some muscle. Ideally, Hooker could use this year to redshirt, hit the weight room, and gain some knowledge of the playbook.
Meanwhile, Fuente has made it clear that he will put his best foot forward. If he feels Hooker gives the Hokies the best chance to win, that’s who he will go with.
The final, probably least talked about name in this year’s QB race is AJ Bush. Last year, Fuente brought in JUCO transfer Jerod Evans. He quickly rose to the top of the pack, took the starting job, and set single-season Hokies’ records for yards (4,392) and TDs (41).
This year, Fuente found himself in a bit of a conundrum after Evans left for the NFL and Josh Jackson was the only remaining QB on scholarship.
So, what would Fuente do? He went back to familiar territory, of course. Fuente decided to bring in former Nebraska and JUCO QB Aj Bush.
Admittedly, Bush’s 602 yards, 3 TDs, and 8 interceptions don’t really jump off the page at you like Evans’ numbers did last year. However, his 6-foot-4, 225 frame is much more solid than Hooker’s.
In addition, Bush was highly sought after out of High School. Though he is three years removed from this, Fuente still sees talent he can develop. He did it last year; why shouldn’t he be able to do it again?
Bush seemed probably the least poised of the 3 QBs in the Spring Game. However, he seemed to have already made strides of improvement compared to his JUCO tape during his short time at Tech. He finished 3-for-5 with 60 yards.
Since the Spring Game, the coaches have been on the recruiting trail. Obviously, no new information has come on this QB battle. Now, as the weather heats up for summer practice, so will this 3 man battle.
Despite there being no clear front-runner, Hokie fans have plenty to be optimistic about. There was no real front runner last year, and that seemed to turn out just fine as the Hokies re-claimed the Coastal Division.
Furthermore, Evans’ struggles in the NFL seem to show that it was more Fuente’s coaching than Evans himself that led to this success. For this reason, fans have no reason to doubt Fuente and his process: he hasn’t wavered so far.
The QB position has certainly taken a new shape in the last 6 or 7 months. Fuente went from no experience to three very capable players fighting for the job. Now, we just sit back, relax, and see how this all plays out.