Virginia Tech Football Notes: Recruiting And The Postseason

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Virginia Tech
(Dave Knachel, Virginia Tech athletics)

Although the COVID-19 issues that plagued the Hokies early on this season seem to be put to rest, the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the Virginia Tech program and college football as a whole.

“Everybody is dealing with it and doing everything possible to make it as safe as we can for everyone involved,” Head Coach Justin Fuente said. “If we find a way to navigate through it and these kids get to play ball, although it’s under unfamiliar circumstances, and everyone is healthy, I would say it deserves an attaboy.”

With the Hokies’ opponent this week, Pittsburgh, having shut down football activities last week, COVID may directly impact Tech’s schedule for the third time this season. However, there are plenty of other coronavirus issues that could impact the program down the road. 

Effects on Recruiting Could Linger 

With early signing day approaching quickly, the Hokies’ recruiting efforts are still being hindered by the coronavirus. Recruits can’t visit Blacksburg and Tech’s coaches are forced to do everything virtually.

“This class coming up has certainly been cumbersome and a burden. What has recruiting looked like? It’s all virtual,” Fuente said. “I think it’s going to have an even bigger effect on the next class. Hopefully, the good lord willing, we’ll get this thing cleared up.”

The issues haven’t been solely on the recruiting side, but it’s been much tougher for the coaching staff to evaluate players. All they have to work off of is film and these virtual meetings that don’t show the entire picture.

“I get worried about the evaluation part. We can’t go watch them play or go watch them play basketball, which I get. I’m not lobbying to go out right now, but for me, with all of the things that are going down, the evaluation part is going to be very important,” Fuente said. “We need to evaluate their character and their work ethic and how they play and compete. We’re essentially losing all of that. There’s only so much we can see on film.”

The good news is that plenty of 2021 players were able to get on campus, but younger players may not have had that opportunity yet. There is hope that the pandemic will ease over the next few months, but there is no guarantee that recruiting will return to normal anytime soon.

“I think recruiting will probably change no matter what, to what extent, I’m not sure. Hopefully, at some point, we can get back to getting kids on campus,” Fuente said. “It’s a long way away, I think it does have an effect, but not a huge effect. The lingering effects for the next class could be large.”

The 2020 Postseason is Still Up in the Air 

The college football season as a whole has been disjointed with some leagues like the ACC deciding to start on-time, others starting late, and some deciding halfway through the season to play. As the stretch-run approaches for the Hokies and the rest of the country, the postseason picture still looks very foggy.

“Everybody is at a different point throughout the country. It’s just really remarkable. We feel like we have been practicing and playing for a long, long time. We haven’t had a bye week. I know our first game was postponed, but that was not a bye week,” Fuente said. “We didn’t have anybody here basically. I’m pleased that we’ve been able to pull it off in a safe manner to some extent to this point. I think everybody knew that there was going to be bumps in the road.”

With every league in a different spot and COVID protocols dominating the sport, there could be a thought that some teams will opt to not play in the postseason. The question many coaches have to be asking is, is possibly playing in a bowl game worth another month of constant anxiety about the coronavirus.

“That is certainly something that I think will be discussed as we get closer to it. I don’t know what it’s going to look like to be honest with you. I don’t know how everybody is going to feel. I do know that football games are precious, and opportunities are precious,” Fuente said. “I guess when we get a little closer to the end of that, we’ll have a little better feel. I don’t really know what everyone is planning on doing, to be honest with you. I don’t know.”

The Hokies have to deal with these questions with less than a month left in the season. While dealing with the coronavirus, Tech also has to figure out how to turn things around, sitting at .500 on the season.

“I’m just going to tell you, when you take the field it counts, whether it’s during a pandemic or not. We all know that. These are unique circumstances. I feel like the majority of the kids across the country want to play, so that’s what we’re doing,” Fuente said. “You have to understand, when you take the field, whether it’s pandemic or you’ve got guys out or whatever it is, they’re going to keep scoring and it’s going to count.“

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15 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Having bowls in 2020 makes no sense. None will be economically viable for the sponsors except the playoffs.
    NCAA should grant every team 30 days of extra practice while the regular students are home.

  2. Fu is correct – these games count and very few care about how we got to this point. If the fanbase (meaning the whale donors) will be patient, all these guys can coach. What we would have done for this offense 15 years ago? If there are adequate resources, they can be successful. Doing what USCe did (15 million to switch coaches) is going to set this program back a decade and likely will not result in one additional win. I understand that patience is not an attribute of most football fans, but it will pay off in the long run. Go Hokies!

      1. You’re exactly right, some take advantage of two losses just to be a-holes and of course some have legitimate concerns.
        I’m amazed people are talking about jettisoning a coach after losing two games to top 25 teams by FOUR points.

        1. It’s just the way we’re losing I think. We lost to Miami because we didn’t stay with the hot hand, move the chains and score. Instead we stick with the package approach and #6

        2. To me it’s about where we are in year 5 The past two weeks are just the latest / most recent appearance of what it looks like And we are 4-4 at this point, so it’s more than 2 loses It’s a progression or lack of that stems to my lack of confidence in change.

    1. On many levels I agree with you, but for me it’s very simple, we just have to learn how to recruit and sell our program. We are falling further and further behind, and developing mid-level 3*’s will only get you so far. I will support the program as much as possible, but let me be clear, I do not want to be Wake Forest or Duke.

    2. Agree totally. Like it or not, coming into this season, we thought we had the #1 Corner duo ( or very close) in the country. One quits and the other has played in 2 games. Our best DT played 4 downs vs NC State and hasn’t been seen sense. Our all ACC Mike comes in 20# over weight, our starting Whip (or Rover?) gets arrested and thus suspended. Our best DE takes off and returns for game 6……and the malcontents want a coach change? Insane.

      1. Agree. It would be insane. Not only have we loss key players due to several reasons beyond the control of Coach Fu, the lack of Spring Practice to implement a new defense has really hurt. When things get back to normal (beyond Covid) Tech will rebound. Be patient!

    3. Well said. The problem is resources not the coaches. Making a monthly donation, even if it is small, will benefit the program a lot more than posting how the coaches should be fired. Our coaches are doing a good job with the cards they have been dealt.

    4. I like Fuente. Most of the schools that are dumping their coach won’t find anyone much better. No one seems to be able to play defense this season. It’s amazing how many 40+ and 60+ point games there are this year. It’s a complete crapshoot and you certainly can’t glean much info from this year’s results. I don’t see how it makes much sense to burn all that money getting rid of Fuente. He’s high character guy that has coached the offense really well. The defense looked really good last week, so I’m for giving the new defensive coaches time to improve.

      1. I am with you and the current economics leave us little choice. Let’s attack the recruiting issue and continue to capitalize in the transfer portal.

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