Virginia Tech starts spring football practice on Friday, with Brent Pry’s team scheduled to practice on back-to-back days to open the spring. Saturday’s practice will be open to the public, and it will begin at noon. (More details here — scroll down.)
No depth chart has been released, and roster heights and weights have not been updated. Nevertheless, there are several brief topics to discuss.
Devon Hunter’s Status
It appears that Devon Hunter’s career at Virginia Tech is over. The 2020 season did not count towards the eligibility of student-athletes, but since Hunter was suspended for that season, the waiver does not apply for him. Thus, his college career is over.
Hunter is the sixth highest-rated recruit to ever sign for the Hokies according to the 247 Composite rankings, behind only Kevin Jones, Kendall Fuller, Tyrod Taylor, Marcus Vick and Victor “Macho” Harris. However, his career did not go as planned. He started only two games during his career, finishing with 32 tackles, one tackle for loss and one sack. He never recorded an interception or broke up a pass.
Hunter was not expected to compete for a starting job in 2022, though he could have contributed on special teams.
Chamarri Conner’s Versatility
Chamarri Conner decided to use his extra year of eligibility, and Brent Pry and Chris Marve will have a versatile player who is capable of playing multiple positions. Conner played rover as a true freshman in 2018 before switching to whip/nickel, where he started for the past three seasons.
Brent Pry’s base scheme is a 4-3 defense, which is a change from the 4-2-5 that the Hokies used under Bud Foster. That means the Hokies will no longer use a whip/nickel unless in obvious passing situations. That means that Conner will have to find a new role. The good news is that the new coaching staff views him as a very versatile player.
When asked about whether Conner could be used at either safety spot, or perhaps even at the Sam linebacker spot, defensive coordinator Chris Marve was non-committal. However, he did say that Conner is a very versatile player, and he is going to play a big role.
“Chamarri has a phenomenal skillset,” Marve said. “That’s a really good question. We’re teaching him a number of things to see where we can fit him in, because he does check a lot of boxes for what we’re looking for in a number of different positions.
“To plug him in and say ‘he’s going to play this specific position right now’, I don’t think that would be fair to say,” Marve continued. “But what I can say is that he’s a tremendous asset for us as a team, both because of his mindset and his maturity, but also because of his skillset.”
Conner is not a vocal player despite his experience. However, he has always been one of the program’s hardest-working players, and Pry singled him out as a standout during Virginia Tech’s offseason program.
“Chamarri had a great winter,” Pry said. “Really a great worker, always at the front of the line.”
Conner, who had already played four years and would not be eligible for 2022 were it not for the COVID year, will be looking to regain the form of his sophomore season, which was his first as a starter. His play regressed a bit over the last two seasons, which doesn’t make him unique among Virginia Tech football players. It will be interesting to see where he lines up in Tech’s open practice on Saturday.
Connor Blumrick’s Role
Quarterback Connor Blumrick went 17-of-32 (53.1%) for 160 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions last season, while also running 66 times for 290 yards (4.4 ypc) and scoring three touchdowns. He’s a very good athlete, and though he will begin the spring at quarterback, Pry believes that he could potentially help the team in a variety of ways.
“Connor has had an outstanding winter,” Pry said. “Connor is one of the better athletes on this football team. He’s long, he can run, he competes, he’s smart. We’ve got to find a way to make sure that he’s getting some opportunities. If he’s not our quarterback, then where is he helping us? Because to me, if I had to rank our 22 best players right now, he’d certainly be on that list.”
Virginia Tech brought in Marshall transfer Grant Wells and South Carolina transfer Jason Brown to compete for the quarterback position. Both have a lot more experience playing quarterback in college than Blumrick, and most people would consider them more likely to earn the starting job.
If that’s the case, then where does Blumrick fit in? His listed size of 6-5, 215 is more conducive to playing outside receiver than tight end, though he did play an H-back/running back role at Texas A&M before transferring to Virginia Tech.
Offensive coordinator Tyler Bowen acknowledged Blumrick’s versatility, but made it a point to say that the coaching staff views him as a quarterback first right now.
“The exciting thing for me first and foremost is getting to watch him compete for the quarterback job,” Bowen said. “He’s got a good way about him, he’s been a good leader through Phase One, so I’m excited about that first.”
Bowen said he’s not ready to “go down that road right now” with regards to Blumrick switching positions, but conceded that his versatility gives the coaching staff options.
“You can certainly see versatility in his game where he could fit a number of different places. Is that split out and doing some things in routes? Is that playing a tight end type position?”
With six quarterbacks in the program, Pry indicated that he would like to start paring down the reps relatively quickly in the spring. If Blumrick shows that he can be effective, he’ll continue to play quarterback. However, if he’s not as impressive as some of the other signal callers early on the spring, the coaching staff could elect to try him out at other positions to assess their options.