Justin Fuente is hoping some young Hokies step up to replace key contributors from last year's team
In terms of rankings, Virginia Tech’s 2018 recruiting class was very similar to their '17 group. Coming in last year at No. 26 and fourth in the ACC on 247Sports' Composite Team Rankings, this year's class slots in a few spots higher at 24th overall but slid one spot in the conference. Each of the past two classes has consisted of 26 players.
Of those 52 players, there are several that are primed to make an impact next fall. Here are five young Hokies, that will be either true or redshirt freshmen, to keep an eye on leading up to the opener against Florida State on Labor Day evening.
Caleb Farley, ATH
The 6-foot-2, 192-pounder from Hickory, North Carolina, enrolled early last year and impressed everyone with his play at wide receiver. But Farley tore his ACL in early August and missed the entire 2017 season. Now, with depth issues in the secondary, head coach Justin Fuente has not ruled out a switch back to defense, where many analysts projected him coming out of high school. Either way, Farley will see the field a lot in 2018.
Dax Hollifield, LB
Hollifield was a huge fish that was reeled in by Fuente and his staff on National Signing Day. The Hokies had been considered the favorite going into the final weeks, but North Carolina tried to convince the Shelby product to stay in state and Clemson also made a serious late run. The four-star prospect that had other offers from Alabama, Florida State and Stanford will have a huge opportunity next fall as the Hokies have to replace inside linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka.
Hendon Hooker, QB
Josh Jackson is the starter at this time. But Hooker’s play this spring could make Fuente’s final decision a bit more complicated. Jackson didn’t end the season on a really high note, leaving the door open for Hooker, a former four-star prospect out of Greensboro, North Carolina. Hooker performed well in last year’s spring game and if he outplays Jackson in the upcoming practices, there may be a full-on quarterback battle in August. Also keep an eye on true freshman Quincy Patterson, a huge talent that will arrive at Virginia Tech this summer.
Tre Turner, WR
Though all-time leading receiver Cam Phillips’ time in Blacksburg has come and gone, the Hokies do have some nice options in Sean Savoy and Eric Kumah. But Turner is already on campus and will be looking to compete for playing time this spring. The 6-foot-4, 185-pounder from Greensboro, North Carolina, will need to add some size and he missed most of his senior season at Northwest Guilford High School with a shoulder injury. However, receiver is a position where a true freshman can make an impact and Turner has an impressive skill set.
Jeremy Webb, CB
Tech will need some quality bodies at corner with Brandon Facyson and Greg Stroman moving on and Webb will get his chance. At 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, the ASA (New York) College alumnus has great size and can be physical with opposing receivers at the line of scrimmage. The junior college transfer chose the Hokies over Tennessee, Nebraska, West Virginia and Ole Miss.
— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.