If you build it, they will come. Over the last two weeks, Virginia Tech head football coach Brent Pry is finding that out.
Following the Hokies' 55-17 win over in-state rival Virginia on Nov. 25, Virginia Tech became bowl-eligible after starting the season 1-3 in their four non-conference games. They turned things around once ACC play began and went 5-3 to get to 6-6 and guarantee themselves extra practice and a game on Dec. 27 in the Military Bowl against Tulane University.
Getting the win in Charlottesville was huge looking ahead to 2024 as it gives Pry and his coaching staff extra practice with the guys that are returning next season and it also gives the younger players extra time on the field and work toward next season.
Between the end of the regular season and the bowl game, it is an important time for college football coaches in terms of finding out which guys are going to opt out of the bowl game, guys who will decide to transfer, and being active in the transfer portal. Sometimes this time of year can go a long way into setting a program up for success next fall and in the case of Pry, he did some tremendous work with not only his players but players in the transfer portal that recently had an official visit.
Brent Pry sets his team up for potential big-time success in 2024
In the weeks after the win over Virginia, the announcements for players returning in 2024 came and came fast. First defensive end Antwaun Powell-Ryland, who transferred from the University of Florida last year, announced that he was returning. A couple of days later, defensive lineman Josh Fuga announced he was also coming back. The good news didn't stop there.
Quarterback Kyron Drones, who transferred from Baylor last season and became the starter in Week 3 at Rutgers announced he was coming back, and then four of his receivers, Jaylin Lane, Da'Quan Felton, Stephen Gosnell, and Ali Jennings announced that they were returning. Last week, defensive backs Dorian Strong and Mansoor Delane announced that they were running it back next season as well.
Virginia Tech landed their first transfer portal addition last Friday when offensive lineman Montavious Cunningham from Georgia State announced he was going to be a Hokie next season. Then came Monday and the icing on the cake was added for Pry and his staff.
They picked up not one, not two, but three huge transfers in the portal. First Aneas Peebles committed from Duke to play with Powell-Ryland and Fuga, then a short time after, the Hokies got a commitment from one of the top JUCO players, lineman Kemari Copeland from Iowa Western Community College announced he was coming to Blacksburg. Then one of the top linebackers in the portal, Sam Brumfield, from Middle Tennessee State announced he too was coming to Blacksburg. What a day in Hokieland.
A lot of the key pieces that helped Virginia Tech rebound in ACC play to become bowl-eligible is coming back and they are getting four transfers in the portal that are going to come in and make an immediate impact in 2024.
Let's not sugarcoat the mess that Pry inherited in Blacksburg two years ago. A once proud program year in and year out under Frank Beamer had hit rock bottom under Justin Fuente and the former Penn State defensive coordinator was hired to build it back up. Things didn't look good after a 3-8 2022 campaign and a 1-3 start to this season. Everything changed over the final eight games and if there is one thing that we have learned, it's that a lot of the players like being in Blacksburg, however, more importantly, they like what is being built there.
Two years ago, the Virginia Tech football program was at rock-bottom, now in just two seasons, Pry has quickly built them back up and he is setting his team up for a monster 2024 season and if that happens, watch out. The future of Virginia Tech football appears to be bright with a new culture that everyone likes.