Can a young defense continue the “Lunch Pail” tradition of dominance?
The Hokies head into this season looking to replace seven starters on a defense that ranked in the top 15 nationally in scoring defense, rushing defense and total defense in 2017. Four of those seven starters were drafted by NFL teams (Tremaine Edmunds, Terrell Edmunds, Tim Settle and Greg Stroman). But Ricky Walker and Vinny Mihota, the lone senior starters, return, along with end Trevon Hill, and they represent a strong foundation. Plus, Hokies feature the nation’s best defensive coordinator in Bud Foster.
Who will emerge at the cornerback spots?
Stroman, Brandon Facyson and Adonis Alexander are gone and junior-college transfer Jeremy Webb is out for the season (injury), so sorting out the cornerback positions probably serves as Foster’s top priority. Bryce Watts possesses the speed and the potential to be the next great Tech defensive back, and Jovonn Quillen has played in 22 games over the past two seasons (mostly on special teams). Expect a freshman or two to get early playing time. Caleb Farley, perhaps?
What can fans expect from the quarterback position?
Tech’s staff makes every position a competition to get the best out of everyone, and Ryan Willis certainly opened some eyes with his spring game performance. But Josh Jackson played well as a redshirt freshman, throwing for nearly 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns, with just nine interceptions. He spent the offseason working on his release and accuracy. If he retains the job and gets a little more help from the personnel around him, he could have a big season.
Who replaces Cam Phillips?
Speaking of the personnel around Jackson, Tech’s staff needs to find a receiver or receivers to replace Cam Phillips, the Hokies’ all-time leader in career receptions and career receiving yardage. Unfortunately, some of those receivers (Eric Kumah, Damon Hazelton) missed spring practice with injuries. The Hokies have a lot of intriguing pieces, though, in Hezekiah Grimsley, Phil Patterson and Sean Savoy. If they all develop – and stay healthy – this could be a position of strength as the season goes along.
How do the Hokies replace Joey Slye?
With another kicker, of course, but the question is which one? Slye, a four-year starter, made 15 field goals a year ago, but more importantly, 53 of his 63 kickoffs went for touchbacks, giving Tech a leg up on field position. Brian Johnson made three field goals late last season while Slye sat out with a hamstring injury, but keep an eye on redshirt freshman Jordan Stout, who possesses the stronger leg. The competition probably will go right up until the season opener.
Tech women's soccer team plays two to open 2018 season
Hokies notches two ties in home matches over the weekend
The Virginia Tech women’s soccer team kicked off the 2018-19 athletics season for the Virginia Tech Athletics Department with two matches at Thompson Field over the weekend. The Hokies tied both San Diego and Georgetown and enter this week’s action at 0-0-2. Against No. 22 Georgetown, freshman Karlie Johnson scored in the 38th minute to tie the match at 1, and Tech’s defense held the rest of the way. Goalkeeper Mandy McGlynn finished with four saves. Against San Diego in the season opener, the Hokies couldn’t get on the board, but McGlynn was sensational in goal, recording seven saves. Tech returns to action Friday when it takes on UNC Wilmington at Thompson Field at 6 p.m., followed by a Sunday home match against High Point that start at 5 p.m.
Former football players enjoy return visit to campus
Approximately 50 former football players and their families returned to Blacksburg on Saturday as part of a former football player alumni event held in the football players’ lounge adjacent to the Jamerson Athletics Center. The former players got to watch Saturday’s practice, interact with current players and talk to the current coaching staff. Following the practice, Director of Athletics Whit Babcock and Justin Fuente, the head football coach, addressed the group, relaying their appreciation for what the players accomplished during their times in Blacksburg and for their support over the years. Before, during and after the event, the players enjoyed a catered meal from Mission BBQ in the lounge. The event drew players from all different eras, and some of those who attended included André Davis, Vince Hall, Brenden Hill, Chad Beasley, Ken Keister, Derek Smith, Steve DeMasi, Reggie Samuel, Carlton Weatherford, Brandon Holland, David Everett, Carter Wiley, Todd Meade, Jerome Preston, Paul Ripley, John FitzHugh and John Schneider.