Emmanuel Belmar, a redshirt senior defensive end, will medically retire, Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente said on Thursday.
“After discussions with his family and our medical staff, Emmanuel Belmar has made the decision to step away from football,” Fuente said. “He was a very hard-nosed, tough football player for us for several years. He just couldn’t overcome the injury part.”
The 6-2, 258-pound edge rusher missed the last six games of the 2020 season with a serious concussion. Fuente mentioned in the spring that Belmar’s return was up in the air due to the unpredictability and severeness of head injuries. Despite trying to practice as much as he could, Belmar couldn’t overcome his injury in his sixth season of eligibility.
The Suwanee, Ga. native played a huge role for the Hokies in his time in Blacksburg. After redshirting in 2016 and playing sparingly in 2017, he had a breakout year in 2018. Belmar played in 12 games for Tech, starting ten, and recorded 29 total tackles, including 15 solo stops. He also totaled 2.0 sacks and 4.0 tackles for loss, along with five quarterback hurries.
He had a successful 2019 campaign, too, tallying 39 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks.
On top of that, Belmar had one very memorable fumble recovery: he fell on the loose football in overtime against UVa to beat the Cavaliers and keep the Commonwealth Cup in 2018.
With his absence and the departures of defensive ends Robert Wooten and Alec Bryant in mid-July, Tech’s depth is shallow. However, the Hokies do return an important experienced defensive end: TyJuan Garbutt.
That’s what Co-Defensive Line Coach Bill Teerlinck and Fuente said about Garbutt to the media on Thursday.
A 6-1, 252-pound redshirt junior from Fredericksburg, Garbutt is an energetic character. That’s how his coaches and teammates could tell something was astray last season when Garbutt wasn’t acting like his usual jokester self.
At the beginning of the 2020 season, Garbutt stepped away to be with his father, who was dealing with health issues. He said he wasn’t in the right mental state and was in a dark place. Fuente, Teerlinck and the rest of the team and staff reached out to him daily.
Now, Garbutt is back to being his usual cheerful self. After speaking with him one-on-one at media day, it was clear that Garbutt is a unique individual. Everyone around the program has picked up on that, too.
“He’s friends with everyone on the team, he’s that kind of guy,” Teerlinck said. “Everyone keeps saying, ‘Ty is back.’ He’s a one out of a hundred type of person…one meeting with Ty can change your life.”
“TyJuan Garbutt seems to be back to his old self,” Fuente added. “He’s back. He’s joking and laughing and having a good time. It’s nice to have him back, and we do have some experience there [at defensive end].”
Garbutt totaled 31 tackles in each of his first two seasons in Blacksburg, coupled with 10.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. Playing opposite of All-ACC selection Amare Barno, Garbutt has the potential for a breakout year.
Tech’s defensive end room now contains experienced veterans in Barno, Garbutt, Eli Adams and Jaylen Griffin. True freshmen Cole Nelson, Mattheus Carroll and Wilfried Pene have also impressed so far. Teerlinck said Nelson and Carroll are farther along physically than anticipated.
“I’ve been impressed with how fast the freshmen have picked up the playbook,” Teerlinck said.
Other Notable Updates
A hamstring injury has slowed wide receiver Jaden Payoute so far in August, Fuente said on Thursday. The Chesterfield native missed the entirety of last season with an ankle injury that required surgery.
Quarterback Knox Kadum has made “serious progress,” according to Fuente. A redshirt freshman, Kadum has been around the program for three seasons, which is an advantage in the QB competition over transfer Connor Blumrick and true freshman Tahj Bullock.
After transferring from Maryland, offensive lineman Johnny Jordan has fit right in. “I’ve been very pleased with him,” Fuente said. “If you didn’t know, you’d think he’d been here four or five years.” The All-Big Ten Honorable Mention selection at Maryland provides experience and depth for the Hokies and the offensive line.