2022 Virginia Tech Quarterbacks Preview

Will Grant Wells be the starting quarterback at Virginia Tech? (Jon Fleming)

[Note: For Tech Sideline’s positional previews, David Cunningham will write a traditional outlook of each position, and Chris Coleman will follow up later with a more analytical and opinionated column for TSL Pass subscribers.]

As the 2022 campaign rolls around, it’s a great time to mention that it’s been eight seasons since Virginia Tech last had a quarterback start every game for back-to-back seasons. That was Logan Thomas in 2012 and 2013. The quarterback position has been a rollercoaster for the Hokies in recent years. In Justin Fuente’s six seasons, five different players started 13 or more games behind center. That all has the potential to change this season.

Grant Wells

Redshirt Junior*
6-1, 208
Charleston, W. Va.
*Wells has a COVID year to use, too.

Wells transferred from Marshall in the offseason after starting for two seasons, and it was there he eclipsed 5,600 yards and tossed 34 scores.

His 2021 numbers were eye-opening: 295-445 (66.3%), 3,532 yards, 16 touchdowns, 13 interceptions; 60 rush attempts, 62 yards, 7 touchdowns. His interception rate stands out, but that’s a season that would’ve gone down in history in Blacksburg.

Here’s how some of his numbers would’ve translated to Tech’s record book:

Total passes for season: 445; VT record: 441 – Michael Brewer, 2014
Season passing yards: 3,532; VT record: 3,546 – Jerod Evans, 2016
Most passes completed in a game: 34 vs. N.C. Central; VT record: 34 – Don Strock vs. Houston, 1972
Most passes completed in season: 295; VT record: 268 – Jerod Evans, 2016
Yards-per-game average: 271.7; VT record: 294.8 – Don Strock, 1972
Completion percentage: 66.3%; VT record: 65.3% – Hendon Hooker, 2020

If all goes to plan under new offensive coordinator Tyler Bowen, it’s unlikely that Wells will need to air it out to that extent. But those numbers show his capability, and he also showed it off in the Spring Game with two long touchdowns to Kaleb Smith.

With quarterbacks coach Brad Glenn, Wells and his teammates spent all winter and spring installing the playbook and grasping the offense. That’s translated to the summer and into fall camp, and Wells seems more comfortable in the system.

“The winter was installing the offense,” Wells told Tech Sideline at Virginia Tech’s media day on Wednesday. “Now is the time where you use the offense in situations like it’s meant to be, and we gained a lot of experience over the summer. We actually knew what to work on in the summer rather than the winter.”

Jason Brown

Graduate Student
6-2, 230
Fredericksburg, Va.

A South Carolina transfer, Brown and Wells committed to Virginia Tech a few minutes apart on Jan. 6.

A lifelong Hokie fan, Brown hoped he would earn an offer from his dream school, but it never came. Out of high school, he ventured to St. Francis (Pa.) where he spent three seasons. He earned FCS All-America honors in 2019 and and threw for 3,124 yards, 28 touchdowns and six interceptions in his career.

Brown spent the 2021 season in Columbia, S.C. with Shane Beamer and South Carolina. He was in the spotlight down the stretch, starting the final four games of the year, and he helped the Gamecocks to wins against Florida and Auburn, throwing for 332 yards and five scores in the process.

Jason Brown is the other side of the quarterback coin. (Jon Fleming)

In his start in the spring game, Brown was hampered by an inferior offensive line, completing only six of his 14 attempts and being sacked three times. He’ll get a fair shot to win the quarterback job in fall camp, however, and even if he doesn’t win the job, he’ll provide Tech with solid depth.

Who Will Win The Starting Job?

Throughout much of the spring, Wells appeared to have the upper hand in the QB duel. He’s more mobile and agile with the bigger arm. Is it his job to lose?

Brent Pry, Bowen and Glenn are branding it as an open competition, and Pry told the media on Wednesday that he expects to name a starter next week. The Hokies scrimmaged Wednesday and another is planned for Saturday. Those kind of situations will give the two players an opportunity to showcase their skills.

“The thing you get in scrimmages that you don’t get in practice is those ‘move the ball’ situations,” Bowen said. “The true flow of a drive or situations happen organically. That’s what we’ll get here over the next few practices.

“When you’re in practice, you’re in a team period, you’re scripting, you’re working on situational work. … I think just seeing the quarterback move the ball, take available grass to play a 10-yard game and move the ball down the field. I think that’s what you get to see in those scrimmage situations, which helps you make a decision.”

Bowen said Wells and Brown both show a sense of maturity and understand how to put the team first. Wells seems to be the No. 1 option, and he also has three years of eligibility remaining. If he does indeed win the job, Virginia Tech could have consistency at quarterback for the first time in quite a while.

“This is the first opportunity that we’re going to have the scrimmage type of aspect in fall camp,” Wells told Tech Sideline. “That’s exciting. It’s always exciting to have real situations and real scenarios come up and actually see what Coach Bowen likes to call in different situations.

“One thing that gets overlooked [in unscripted situations] is just the tempo. We’re gonna have to use a lot of different tempo variations this year. … In a scrimmage type of situation, we can use those fast plays to our advantage when you can’t really do that in practice.”

Bullock And Farrell

A redshirt freshman from Jersey City, N.J., Tahj Bullock (6-3, 222) only made one appearance in his first season in Blacksburg, which came in the Pinstripe Bowl. Meanwhile, Devin Farrell (5-11, 195) is a true freshman from Alpharetta, Ga.

For the duo, retaining the information learned in the spring and continuing to grow more comfortable with the playbook is key. Glenn is pleased with the quarterback unit as a whole, but Wells and Brown have years of experience. He described Bullock and Farrell as “learning on the run.”

“Tahj is still young,” Glenn told Tech Sideline. “I think he has improved tremendously since the spring. Devin just got here in January, he was an early enrollee. I think he’s improved since the spring. You see strides out of all of those guys.”

After practice on Aug. 5, Bowen said Bullock and Farrell approached the summer and offseason with a great work ethic. It’s still early in their careers, but they’ll have this year to improve with strength & conditioning staff and learn the ropes behind Wells and Brown.

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  1. Sounds like Wells is the front runner but I like Brown’s low interception numbers. I’ve no idea what kind of DB’s Wells already played against but Wells has thrown almost as many interceptions 13 as he has TD’s 16. That needs to improve.

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