Virginia Tech Football is currently hemorrhaging talent. As of January 23, four big name players have entered the NCAA transfer portal. These players are tight end Chris Cunningham, wide receiver Eric Kumah, running back Deshawn McClease, and quarterback Josh Jackson. All of these players received significant playing time during the 2018 season, and it seems the loss of certain coaches, as well as a heavy competition on positions has forced these players to reconsider their futures in football. With the loss of these key players many fans are fearing it pushes back the development of the team another year.
2018 was always going to be a rebuilding year for Virginia Tech. After losing almost their entire defense to the draft, the offense had to perform at exceptional rates in order to keep up with other teams. More often than not, unfortunately, they did not. By finishing the season at 6-7, this was arguably the worst team Blacksburg has seen in over 20 years. Instead of sticking with the program and picking each other up, it seems that many key players, with only one or two years of eligibility left, have hopped ship hoping for better NFL looks elsewhere. What this will lead to is a much more competitive spring camp especially at the quarterback position. Between sophomore Hendon Hooker, freshman Quincy Patterson, and returning starter Ryan Willis the Hokies are well prepared to have a decent quarterback at the beginning of the season. This will also mean that Dalton Keene will take over most if not all of the tight end snaps this season, and puts more pressure on running back Justin Holston, especially since the starting running backs from both the 2017 season and 2018 season have decided to transfer. This loss is most likely the biggest, as McClease was the number two rusher on the team, behind only graduating senior Steven Peoples. The next two running backs up combined for 26 fewer rushing yards than McClease, and neither of them (Jalen Holston and Terius Wheatley) finished in the top three rushers for the Hokies this past season. Seeing as rushing has been a problem for Fuente since he started in 2016, look for this position to continue to underperform next season.
The loss of Eric Kumah will most likely affect the tech offense the least. This former top recruit hauled in 559 out of the team’s 3300 receiving yards, second only to Ball State transfer Damon Hazleton. However, with the sheer amount of talent in the Virginia Tech receiving corps coupled with the arms at the quarterback position, the passing game should still improve upon its decent 2018 season. While he will be missed, there are plenty of hands that can do his job, perhaps even better than he can. Especially rising sophomore Tre Turner, who could become one of the best wide receivers in the ACC by the time he declares for the draft
With the latest transfers has come much fear amongst the Virginia Tech faithful about the future of their beloved program. Ultimately, not much will change about the starting roster, besides not having McClease at starter, and the returning players all gained enough experience this season to improve. With a weak schedule and seven home games in Lane Stadium, Virginia Tech should rest easy knowing their team will be just fine.