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.
OK, two more portal entries today as well. Senior S Khalil Ladler and WR Phil Patterson, Virginia Tech confirms. (Not Quincy.)
Ladler was a backup whip to Chamarri Conner. Playing time might have been an issue there. Patterson had 289 receiving yards in four years. #Hokies
— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) January 22, 2020
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.