When perennial second string quarterback Mark Leal abruptly left the Virginia Tech football team Tuesday it opened the door for redshirt sophomore Brenden Motley to move up the depth chart.
Motley was the preseason number one at quarterback, but an injury and the arrival of junior Michael Brewer from Texas Tech saw Motley quickly fall to third string. While he likely won't see playing time this season unless Brewer is injured, it's worth looking at what he can bring to the table in the future.
The 6'4", 215 pound Motley is a local product having grown up in nearby Christiansburg and attending Christiansburg High School before being recruited to Virginia Tech in 2012. In his senior year of high school he threw for 951 yards and 12 touchdowns, while rushing for another 13 touchdowns and 646 yards on the ground.
However, for all his offensive exploits in high school Motley was perhaps more regarded for his play at defensive back, a position many expected him to move to when he arrived in Blacksburg. A lack of scholarship quarterbacks and his skills as a dual threat behind center kept him on the offensive side of the ball. Motley's ability to protect the ball, and make plays on the run had him looking like a suitable replacement to Logan Thomas before he was cut down by injury.
Now with Leal's departure and the struggles of Brewer, where does Motley fit into the Hokies' future going forward?
Shane said new back up QB Brenden Motley's reps have been limited in practice this year due to class conflict. Working with profs going fwd.— Hokies Journal (@HokiesJournal) November 5, 2014
With the team currently 4-5 and essentially playing out the string in a season that has gone south, Frank Beamer likely won't rock the boat by straying from Brewer. It's especially unlikely with a quarterback who hasn't taken many reps this season.
But what about next season?
It would be unusual to drop an incumbent quarterback like Brewer down the depth chart, but with the current state of the program all options should be available.
If the Hokies think Motley could be the quarterback to guide them back to a winning formula they would be better served starting him next season as a junior to give him two years of continuity with the offense.
Unseating an incumbent like Brewer isn't an easy task, but with Virginia Tech football in flux, the thought of a quarterback competition between Brewer and Motley might not be such an unpalatable idea to Hokie Nation.