Granted eligibility waivers were flying off the shelf last year for seemingly every team but Virginia Tech. As a result, Brock Hoffman and Braxton Burmeister were forced to sit out the 2019 season.
It created a shared bond and fostered a friendship between the two. Now, the duo is inseparable and ready to appear in the maroon and orange for the first time in live game action on Saturday against NC State.
“Me and Braxton are tight,” Hoffman said during Tuesday’s Zoom media session. “That’s my best friend. Obviously me and him went through all those tough times together. I think that made us really, really close. Staying up late and talking about this year. We were talking about how we were going to go out and win as many games as we can and perform to our level.”
“Me and Brock got super close during that year,” Burmeister said. “It was every day we’re together, and spending a lot of time together. He’s one of my best friends. We went through the whole process together and pushed each other. Even though it’s not competing with a quarterback, we were competing with each other to see who would have better days on scout team.”
Both Hoffman and Burmeister anticipated making an immediate impact on the Hokies when they transferred from Coastal Carolina and Oregon, respectively. Instead, both saw their waivers denied, with Hoffman’s creating national headlines due to the poor optics from the NCAA.
As a result, Hoffman and Burmeister were forced to take their talents to the practice squad where they quickly impressed and caught the attention of their teammates and coaching staff.
“Once my waiver got denied, I flipped my mind and really took pride in scout team,” Burmeister said. “That was my way to get the defense ready to go. I think just doing that, and taking every day and getting better at my skill set, the little things I needed to improve on, so that definitely helped me.”
There was certainly a sense of frustration for both of the players last year, but in the long run, it appears that it will pay off with both expected to see playing time in 2020. Hoffman characterized the denied waiver as a blessing in disguise for him.
“I thought last year was the year I kind of took that step as a player and gained a lot of knowledge football wise, but also nutrition and lifting,” Hoffman said. “I think you can tell that if you look at pictures of me from my freshman year to now the transformation of my body. I just think that’s where I grew the most.
“At the end of the day, I believe everything happens for a reason. I definitely saw that to be true as I went through last year. Just very thankful. Honestly, I’m thankful it happened because I feel I’m a better player now preparing for my junior year than I was last year. Just ready to go.”
Hoffman now stands at 6-foot-3, 317-pounds. When the unofficial depth chart was released on Monday, the redshirt junior was slotted in as the starting center. As he mentioned, a lot of his success in the weight room and on the field can be attributed to the new nutrition plan he’s taken up since coming to Blacksburg…a nutrition plan that was only strengthened by his right-hand man.
“I’ve just incorporated a lot of vegetables and fruits,” Hoffman said. “I kind of wasn’t as educated on that kind of stuff. A lot of that has to do with the nutritionist here, but also with Braxton, my best friend on the team. Coming from Cali, he has a little different way of living and eating and all that stuff. He kind of incorporated that with me, and honestly it’s helped me incorporate spinach, mushrooms, peppers, all that kind of stuff into the meals. I feel better as this year has gone on.”
Like Hoffman, Burmeister last saw action in 2018. During a press conference on September 9, head coach Justin Fuente announced Hendon Hooker as QB1, but noted that Burmeister would play and have a role in the opener. It came as a surprise to many that Burmeister seemingly solidified a role on the team after being an unknown last year.
“It definitely feels like a long time coming, and I’m super excited for this game,” Burmeister said. “I can’t wait to get out there. I just feel like it’s my job to get ready as best as possible. Whenever my number is called, just be ready to go and take advantage of the situation.”
So what exactly does Burmeister bring to the table from the quarterback position? His athleticism and dual-threat ability should be a perfect fit for the RPO-style offense that Virginia Tech can run.
“He’s very, very athletic,” Hoffman said of Burmeister. “He’s very shifty. Based off the quarterbacks I’ve played with before, he’s probably one of the most shiftiest ones in space. I think it’s pretty cool seeing him get out there and make some plays.”
At some point on Saturday, Burmeister will likely take a snap from Hoffman. It will be the fulfillment of a delayed beginning, but one that was worth the wait.
“We’re all riled up and ready to go,” Burmeister said. “It’s just been a long process, a long time coming, and we’re just excited to get out there Saturday.”