Thanks to Buzz Williams and the Virginia Tech basketball team, there’s some excitement around Blacksburg. The hardwood Hokies are in position to make their second consecutive NCAA appearance, which would be just the third time in school history the team went mad in March in back-to-back seasons.
While the basketball squad is driving towards postseason play, the football team is gearing up for spring practice. Justin Fuente’s crew will have some big holes to fill on both sides of the ball and it will be interesting to see which players step forward during the upcoming sessions.
Here are five players to watch during Virginia Tech’s spring football drills.
Caleb Farley, DB/WR
Farley enrolled last January and was a standout at receiver during the 2017 spring practices. But an ACL injury in early August wiped out his freshman campaign. The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder may not be completely recovered, but he is still someone to keep an eye on. Fuente has not ruled out a switch to the defensive backfield and if he does transition to the other side of the ball, it would have to begin this spring.
Houshun Gaines, DE
When Vinny Mihota went down late in the year, Gaines was inserted into the lineup and performed well. In the victory over Virginia, the Rocky Mount, North Carolina, product had a sack, another tackle for lost yardage, and a fumble recovery that set up Tech’s only touchdown. He had another sack and two tackles for lost yardage in the Camping World Bowl loss to Oklahoma State. With Mihota still sidelined for the spring, Gaines has a chance to build on his late-season surge.
Hendon Hooker, QB
Josh Jackson started the year strong, then faded down the stretch. While he enters spring as the starting signal-caller, Hooker will be trying edge closer in an attempt to make it a true quarterback competition going into fall camp. A four-star recruit coming out of high school, Hooker is a pass-first guy that can make plays running the ball.
Devon Hunter, S
Now is the time for the jewel of the 2017 recruiting class. The Hokies lost several valuable defensive backs and inexperienced players will be counted on in 2018. Hunter is a big, athletic safety that needs to gain a better understanding of Bud Foster’s system. There are other young players that will be fighting for time in the secondary but Hunter is the most physically gifted.
Dylan Rivers, LB
With Tremaine Edmunds and Andrew Motuapuaka moving on, Virginia Tech returns very little production at linebacker. Rivers played in seven games and had just three tackles as a true freshman last season, but he is being penciled in as one of the starting linebackers. The Stephens City, Virginia, native that had offers from Clemson, LSU and Penn State coming out of high school wants to lock down a starting spot with a strong spring.
— 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.