Virginia Tech Stars Prioritizing Bowl Preparation Amid NFL Draft Questions

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Defensive tackle Ricky Walker (8) could forego his final year of eligibility at Virginia Tech after the Hokies’ bowl game. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

It’s kind of a slow time around the football offices at Virginia Tech. While the coaches hit the recruiting trail before bowl preparation, the Hokies have found themselves with a lot of down time this week. Tech doesn’t yet know what bowl game they’ll be in, so they’re spending their time lifting, running, and if you’re Ricky Walker and Tim Settle, playing the new Call of Duty video game.

“It’s a blessing,” Walker said. “It’s more sleep time, more nap time. It’s so much free time, I don’t know what to do. I’ve gotten to play Call of Duty a little bit more.”

“Better ask Ricky who’s at the top of the leaderboard,” Settle said. “I’m the best one on the team. You can ask anybody, I’m telling you.”

On a serious note, Virginia Tech is taking full advantage of the off week. The Hokies were a M*A*S*H unit heading into their in-state rivalry game vs. Virginia on Nov. 24, and could seriously use the extra time. Defensive ends Trevon Hill and Vinny Mihota, whip/nickelback Mook Reynolds, defensive tackle Jarrod Hewitt, left tackle Yosuah Nijman and kicker Joey Slye have all been banged up in recent weeks, and most of them missed Tech’s game vs. Virginia.

This week, Virginia Tech has taken the week off, outside of regular weight training and conditioning drills.

“It’s definitely taken stress of our bodies,” Settle said. “It’s letting us really like heal, and just get back healthy, for all the people who do have bumps and bruises and stuff like that. So it definitely takes stress off our bodies, not practicing as much and not as much contact.”

“We had a lot of guys on the team playing a lot of snaps last year, especially defensively. Had a lot of new guys in this year, so we needed the rest,” Gallo said. “Just physically for our bodies. But I think we finished the season pretty strong with those final two wins, and I think our bodies are pretty strong going into the end of the season. I think we just need to build up for the bowl game right now, and try to get back as strong as possible before then.”

The Hokies should learn their bowl game opponent late this weekend, likely on Sunday afternoon. Once they learn their opponent, bowl preparation will begin. And the Hokies aren’t worried about getting back into the swing of things.

“I don’t think it’s that hard,” senior mike linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka said. “I’m pretty sure guys are looking forward to the bowl game, and just all that it brings. Just having fun with each other and enjoying that last time that we have together to play in a football game. But I’m sure once we find out who we’re playing, that’ll help drive guys.”

“I think the plan that Coach (Fuente) has is a great plan,” senior cornerback Greg Stroman said. “I think that as long as we follow that, we’ll be fine. I just feel like right now, we’re doing a lot in the weight room, conditioning, staying up on our conditioning. I just think that’s just the right way to go.”

Until then, Tech is waiting in the wings. Some players have tried to predict their bowl destination, while others haven’t thought about it at all.

“I just want to play an SEC team,” Motuapuaka said. “Kind of show those guys that the ACC is tough too, and that we can play with those guys as well. So yeah, any SEC team is a team I want to play.”

“I actually don’t look at the bowl scenarios,” Gallo said. “It’s out of our hands at this point. Obviously, we control where we go, based on our play. But at this point, there’s nothing we can do that can change it. So I just patiently wait and see what happens.”

Virginia Tech football
Tremaine Edmunds (49) is one of the most highly-rated underclassmen eligible for the 2017 NFL Draft. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

Virginia Tech underclassmen focusing on NFL Draft decisions after bowl season

Once bowl season is over, multiple Virginia Tech players face a decision. Return for their final year of eligibility, or declare for the NFL Draft?

Among those players is linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who is one of the most highly-regarded underclassmen eligible for the 2018 NFL Draft. The junior linebacker has made 28 career starts in his career, registering 10 sacks and 35 tackles for loss.

Edmunds is aware of his potential attractiveness to NFL teams, but is doing his best to put the NFL talk behind him.

“Just kind of blocking it out right now, trying to finish up the season,” Edmunds said. “I got my mind on the bowl game right now, so we still have another game left. Just kind of blocking it out, and just trying to finish the season.”

That doesn’t mean Edmunds won’t attempt to submit paperwork to the NFL Draft Advisory Board, which aims to further educate pro prospects on their projected draft range.

“That’ll be up to the coaches. I’ll let them decide that, and we’ll go from there,” Edmunds said.

Edmunds said that his older brother, free safety Terrell, will also have a decision to make. Tremaine said playing with his brother is enticing, and that it’ll be part of his decision.

“Definitely. I’d like to play however long I can with my brothers,” Edmunds said. “At the end of the day, it’s going to be his decision, it’ll be both of our decisions.”

Tim Settle hopes to submit paperwork to the advisory board, and will take that feedback into account when he makes his decision.

“I’m not really worried about it right now,” Settle said. “Just trying to focus on this last game, and see how that goes. This is the seniors’ last game. We sent them out good at home, we sent them out good against UVA, we want to send them out good with a bowl game.”

Settle could be an attractive option to NFL teams. The redshirt sophomore started all 12 games this season, and finished with 12.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. Settle took great strides in 2017, evolving from an off-the-bench pass rusher into a stalwart on Virginia Tech’s defensive line. However, Settle only has one year of starter-level production, and has two more years of eligibility in Blacksburg.

Ricky Walker echoed both Edmunds’ and Settle’s sentiments regarding the NFL Draft. The redshirt junior has 16 career starts, with 18 career tackles for loss and five sacks. Walker started four games in 2016, and turned into the “bell cow” this season for the Virginia Tech defense, which is currently 13th in the nation in total defense, 16th in rush defense, and 17th in pass efficiency defense.

“Not right now. I’m worried about the bowl game,” Walker said. “But the NFL is always an option. I’ll worry about that more after the bowl game.”

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17 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. These kids need to also sit down with former player where it didnt work out. The likely scenario is they get picked up late, go unsigned free agent or nothing at all. VT should be doing its due diligence to make sure these kids get an unbiased honest opinion. Unless you are a first rounder, you are talking 100s of thousands vice millions. I am sure 500k to a poor kid sounds awesome, but it never lasts long.

  2. with all the NFL players that wash out in 2 seasons, the most important thing these guys can do is get a degree. One more year to mature at this age is very important to establishing their future financial well being. $5 million is not enough. Stay and play with your brothers for Glory! Memories are priceless and most NFL players squander their fortunes.

    1. I wouldn’t read too much into that. I hear zero conversation from college players about school work all season, yet I’m sure they have it. I think in this case, it’s mainly a matter of what questions are asked that lead to the comments printed. I’m sure if Ricky asked, “how’s school going?” he could fill an article with quotes about which class is the most challenging, exams, etc… and then no one would read it.

  3. I sure hope our underclassmen have better advisors counseling them about their NFL prospects than the drips who advised Evans, Hodges, and even Ford last year. Even Tremaine is nowhere near ready for the NFL. What a shame that these kids get stars in their eyes……

  4. I understand the first round NFL players selected averaged 12 million in salary.
    Second rounders averaged 2 million. Does it not then make sense to stay in college as long as possible to insure being drafted as high as possible. Also, one can get insurance to protect against injury.

    1. the assumption there is that staying in college is going to take you from the second round to the first. If you are on the fringe there this year and maybe there is a strong draft class at your position, then it might make sense to go. But the decline in contract value really flattens out between the mid second round, all the way to the 7th round. generally the first 1-2 rounds, players are getting more guarantied on their contract while 2-5th rounders even things out a bit with a signing bonus.

      So if you are a projected 2nd-3rd rounder and will likely stay there even with one more year of school, the choice is basically, make $1-2 million next year or get a degree but make $0.

  5. Hope they come back. Will be a national title contending type of D, with new infusion of playmakers at WR

    Only Edmunds is a potential 1st rounder. I think he’s a sure fire 1st round guy after 1 more year, Settle may be too (he shouldn’t come out same year as Clemson & UW’s DTs)

    1. Agree. But if u can get paid to play football instead of not get paid to ply football, always pick tonget paid!

      If 49 8 and 4 get good info that they will get drafted I’m happy for them. It’s a violent sport that’s unpredictable as far as injuries and when could be your last game. So I say take the money and run. Sucks for us but that’s the point of recruiting well

      1. I kind of have a different point of view:

        Scholarship players ARE gettting paid to play… especially now more than ever with the grant in aid cost of attendance money afforded to athletes.

        Plus when will VT players understand that until Tech wins a championship, entering the draft early as an underclassmen is extremely ill advised. VT doesnt get the nod and favoritism other players of other schools get due to national notoriety, national title contention or national program adoration by the media. Players are fooling themselves if they think there is money to take and run.

        Unless you are ASSURED you are GUARANTEED to be one of 32 players taken as 1st round draft picks…….then don’t come out early. VT players have zero margin for error. You only come out early for guaranteed contract money. Anything less than is a Las Vegas gamble.

  6. Really good, and timely article – everybody wants the 411 on these guys. Ricky, you have very quickly become a valuable addition to TSL.

  7. OK, I understand some of the guys being tempted on leaving early. They might as well submit the paperwork; but when I look at what happened to Ford, Hodges and Evens last year, I hope that they take the information with a grain of salt.

    Dang I would like 1 more year of the Edmond brothers, and Walker/Settle starting on the line. I think it could/would be wise maybe of the guys talking to the threesome from last year. Personally, Please Stay!!!

    GO HOKIES WIN THE BOWL GAME!!!

    And good luck on Call of Duty.

    1. Hoping they stay for not only their talent, but to also be leaders on the field. We lose Motu in the middle, so would like to keep both TE’s and of course with how deep we are at DT, we really need both DT’s or next year will be a really tough year in the middle.

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