Since the Virginia Tech football team went into Charlottesville on Nov. 25 to lay a 55-17 beatdown of their in-state rival Virginia, the news to come out of Blacksburg has been nothing but good news for second-year head coach Brent Pry.
He was handed the keys to the program in December of 2021 after the Hokies parted ways with former coach Justin Fuente. The former Penn State defensive coordinator was handed a rough situation in Blacksburg and his team was coming off a rout handed to them in the Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium.
Pry was responsible for rebuilding the Hokies back up to the days when Frank Beamer was in charge and they were yearly contenders in the ACC. Of course, it wouldn't happen overnight for Pry and his staff, but it's safe to say that the rebuild picked up steam over the final eight weeks of the 2023 season. Virginia Tech went 5-3 in the ACC and became bowl-eligible with their win over the Cavaliers.
Now in just two short years, the ground work has been laid for the long-term success in Blacksburg and over the last month-plus, the signs have been getting stronger and stronger.
Brent Pry retaining talent shows signs of future success
If you build it, they will come and they certainly are for the Hokies. Last offseason, the transfer portal was big for Virginia Tech with Ali Jennings, Da'Quan Felton, Antwaun-Powell Ryland, Kryon Drones, Bhayshul Tuten, and Jaylin Lane all coming to Blacksburg. Little did anyone know just how valuable they all would become. Powell-Ryland solidified the defensive line, Lane and Felton became play-makers at wide receiver, Drones settled in at quarterback when Grant Wells went down and Tuten is an emerging star running back.
Jennings was hurt in Week 2 against Purdue, but like his other teammates who made a huge impact in 2023, they are all coming back to Tech for 2024. Add in five transfers, Montavious Cunningham along the offensive line and defensive linemen Kemari Copeland, Kelvin Gilliam from Oklahoma and Aeneas Peebles from Duke with linebacker Sam Brumfield, and the Hokies did nothing but get significantly better from the transfer portal.
That doesn't even include tight end Nick Gallo, who missed the 2023 season with a knee injury, defensive lineman Josh Fuga is returning, as well as secondary players Mansoor Delane and Dorian Strong, the Hokies defense is going to be one tough unit to move the ball on, never mind trying to score on.
Delane and Strong had an opportunity to declare for the NFL Draft or transfer, but they decided to run it back with their teammates next season. In fact, if you look at most, if not all the announcements about returning to Virginia Tech next season, all players have said there is unfinsihed business in 2024 for the program.
What does all of this mean? It means that the culture that Pry and his staff have built has set them up for long-term success. They hit it big in recruiting in the state of Virginia and retaining some of the best talent the Commonwealth has to offer. Why? They like the culture and the direction the program is heading.
This will go long beyond 2024 and retaining their talent, getting additions on the transfer portal and keeping the in-state talent home, the long-term future and success of the Virginia Tech football program is very bright.