Five Virginia Tech Football Players Enter Transfer Portal

Hezekiah Grimsley Virginia Tech
Hezekiah Grimsley and four other Virginia Tech football players have entered the transfer portal. (Ivan Morozov)

With classes starting on Tuesday at Virginia Tech, the transfer portal heated up, with five football players announcing that they have entered the portal: WR Hezekiah Grimsley, S Khalil Ladler, WR Phil Patterson, RB Caleb Steward, and WR Jacoby Pinckney.

None of the five players projected as a starter in 2020, and though Ladler and Grimsley had started 13 and six games respectively in their careers, none of the five players started a game in 2019.

Per NCAA rules, once classes start, athletes can enter the portal and still retain their scholarships for the spring semester. All players are eligible to stay at Virginia Tech, as one-time portal entrants Hendon Hooker, Deshawn McClease, Landers Nolley (basketball) and Wabissa Bede (basketball) have done in the past.

These five players join wide receiver Damon Hazelton in the portal. Hazelton previously announced his entry into the portal back on January 17, prior to the start of Spring semester classes.

Career Starts and Statistics

Grimsley, a true senior for 2020, started one game in 2017 (12 receptions, 139 yards) and five games in 2018 (31 rec., 382 yds, 1 TD). With the arrival of Tayvion Robinson (seven starts) in 2019, Grimsley logged zero starts, and his production dropped to ten receptions and 170 yards, though he did score two TD’s, including this highlight-reel grab against ODU:

Ladler, a redshirt senior for 2020, started two games in 2017 (12 tackles) and 11 games in 2018 (66 tackles). He played in all 13 games in 2019 but didn’t log any starts, though he did play a critical role in the six-overtime win against North Carolina, stopping UNC quarterback Saw Howell short of the end zone in the sixth overtime, setting up Quincy Patterson’s game-winning run. Ladler logged just 18 tackles in 2019 in reduced playing time.

Patterson, also a redshirt senior for 2020, doesn’t have any career starts at Virginia Tech, and he has 27 catches for 269 yards and two touchdowns. After catching nine passes in 2017 and 12 in 2018 (one TD), his production fell off to six catches and one touchdown in 2019.

Steward, a redshirt sophomore for 2020, has played in five career games, logging 19 carries for 85 yards. Pinckney redshirted in 2019 and didn’t play in any games.

Virginia Tech Transfer Portal Tweets

Of the five players, three (Grimsley, Pinckney, and Ladler) tweeted their intentions to enter the portal, while two others (Ladler and Patterson) were reported by Andy Bitter of The Athletic and others. Here are screen caps of the three player tweets, as well as Bitter’s tweet.

Virginia Tech Football Scholarship Count

For a deep dive into the number of scholarship players remaining on the roster, see this TSL Pass article by Chris Coleman.


27 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Will, I think there is a typo? “Of the five players, three (Grimsley, Pinckney, and Ladler) … while two others (Ladler and Patterson) … .” Ladler is listed twice.

  2. Hate to see Pinckney and Ladler go. Thought Pinckney would compete for time this year in a potentially explosive offense and Ladler, always a gamer and who knows how he could fit into our next schemes.
    Hope these young men consider coming back!!

  3. Lets face it, this trend is going to continue at this pacer or higher until Tech and CJF give them a reason to stay. Notice Etienne at Clemson decided not to go pro early this year. Why? Because Clemson competes yearly for championships. Players want to compete for a championship. As long as VT finishes 2nd or worse in their division and goes to bowl games that are inconsequential players don’t have the motivation to stay.

    1. Must be why we had guys transfer to Maryland, ODU and Delaware cause those schools are always in the hunt for a Natty. Can’t remember a one who’s transferred to Clemson, Bama etc. They usually go to schools where they think they can play not set on the bench for a championship team .

    2. Take a closer look. Seems most of the transfers move down in competition. Maybe it’s really playing time rather than championships. Not a criticism of the players, just an acknowledgement of reality. Most people settle to their level of equilibrium.

    3. Bet Etienne, had he lost the starter’s job to another RB this year, would either have turned pro or entered the Portal to play somewhere else. What do you think?

    4. Let’s face it, some people form opinions and try to convince others of them without being informed. Yes, the Championship teams also have kids that run to the portal for … more rings? No, PLAY time. They want to play, as others here have astutely mentioned here. This is not a CJF problem, and not a VT or ACC problem – just current reality that we have college football has a waiver wire now. It does hurt to lose solid back-ups, but next man up, please!

  4. The sky is. falling. The sky is falling. Second & third stringers are in the portal. We must run and tell King Whit

      1. It’s a biggie to some because they don’t like Fuente, and as long as Fuente is HC here at VT, they will gig him at any opportunity.

  5. Is Jacoby Pinckney he guy Chris C projected to be as good as Andre Davis? If so, really sorry to see him go. All the best.

  6. Hope Grimsley’s family situation works out. I will miss him, always enjoyed his play and he made some spectacular catches. Ladler has come through for us a number of times at the last line of defense, hate to see him go but gotta understand he wants to be on the field. The same can be said for Patterson and Stewart. Puzzled by Pinckney thought he had a chance on the field and Hazelton, Patterson and Grims leaving should have opened up some time on the field right there. Best to all of them, hope they reach their dreams and GO HOKIES!

    1. Agree, Pinckney is a head scratcher with the WR field opening up. Hate to lose a 4 star player especially when their opportunity is now here.

  7. I sure hate to see Ladler go. What a valuable, experienced tackler. I have to believe that, even if he didn’t start in 2020, he would have gotten significant playing time. And, of course, there’s the next man up thing. What a pull-your-hair-out time to be a coach trying to build a program with starters and key backups!

    1. Yep, saved our bacon twice against UNC…had the instincts to be where he needed to be.

      I think players forget sometimes that they’re only a play away from starting the next game, injuries or ejections in affect.

  8. Hate to lose any players. We were all glad they chose to come to Virginia Tech. Hopefully they are leaving for a good reason.

    1. Don’t hate to lose players that have demonstrated their lack of ability to move the program forward. This is a “know your role” issue. Some of these kids may contribute in the future but most leave to maximize personal opportunity and make room for additional recruiting room in the future.

  9. I believe you are still under scholarship, which is one of the loop holes of the system. You are on scholarship, but don’t have tp practice under you’re decision is final

  10. So does the fact that Hazelton announced a week or so ago (before start of semester) mean he is off scholarship this semester? If so, did he enroll somewhere else? (I know he has already graduated.)

    1. Barring other info, yes, Hazelton is off scholarship. A quick Google search doesn’t reveal Hazelton as landing anywhere else yet. He might be taking the semester off and looking towards summer/fall 2020, since classes have started as most places.

      1. I assume the requirement for a scholarship as usual is to attend classes. It is when they are here

      2. Not necessarily, scholarships are signed for academic year so unless staff feels need to yank it or he stops attending classes?

        1. My understanding is that the other kids waited until school started to go into the portal so as not to put their scholly at risk. (Note this is simply from reading the board. Not an educated understanding.)

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