So, interesting couple things have developed in terms of who the quarterback recruit is going to be for the class of 2017. Since Brendan Motley is graduating/out of eligibility next year, we've got to replace his roster spot. Evans, Lawson, and Jackson will be the scholarship quarterbacks, with Click and Mummau being the walk-on members of the roster. So, who takes Motley's spot?
Well, originally, I believe it was going to be Alex Faniel, a quarterback from Glen Allen High School in Richmond. I covered his potential in our quarterback class in a previous article. Faniel has a lot of 247 crystal ball predictions for Virginia Tech- 6, which is more than we usually get. But his scholarship list is low- UVA, ECU, Temple, NCSU, and us. He was originally supposed to announce his college decision the 17th, but spontaneously delayed it.
After talking with my family, I think it's best for me to hold off on my commitment and just focus on school and the upcoming season.— Alex Faniel (@__AF8) March 14, 2016
Which, hey, is perfectly fine. I don't blame a kid for taking whatever time he feels he needs to make his decision. Never have never will. But, since that's a recruiting ‘slot' that is left unfilled, you can't be surprised when other opportunities present themselves to the coaching staff. The opportunity that presented itself was Hendon Hooker.
Hooker was someone that this staff has relatively recently offered- March 1st, actually. I'm writing this on St. Patrick's Day- and we're suddenly the projected favorite for him, somewhat out of the blue. Originally, when I saw his profile when we offered, he was heavily projected to Notre Dame. That was before he took an unofficial visit. Apparently, it must not have gone that well. On the way back to Greensboro (he's a North Carolinian), he contacted the coaching staff and had an unofficial visit to the campus. I suppose we are somewhat on the way back from South Bend and he felt he could squeeze in a visit with his father. Well, shortly after that, both Ryan Bartow and our friendly neighborhood recruiting expert Evan Watkins put in predictions for Hooker to Blacksburg. Shortly after three other 247 writers followed suit (a fourth followed, so six total.)
All this goes to show how quickly recruiting can change. Faniel declined to commit- possibly because Tech was recruiting him as an athlete and not as a quarterback and he's digging for a QB offer- and within a day or so Tech could've taken advantage of a fortuitous situation and now stands to nab a more talented QB. Hooker's rated as a higher three star QB than Faniel, edging toward four stars. ESPN still hasn't rated him- hell, according to them, he doesn't even have a Notre Dame offer, so you know his profile is out of date there. He's rated at four stars on Scout, and three on Rivals. So who exactly is Hendon Hooker and what would we be getting with his potential commitment?
Hendon Hooker (Greensboro, NC. 190lbs, 6'-4". Quarterback)
Hooker is an athletic kid with a big arm that runs out of a shotgun spread-option (somewhat slightly redundant, I know) offense. His long ball is actually quite good- he has great arc and ball placement on his passes. He can make a throw on the run, as well as run it- I think that most of his runs are designed runs rather than bailouts, so that's always a bit of a tossup in terms of how effective he is when passing or running. Either way he's a long strider that can tear right through a seam on a defense. I'd love to see him throwing more advanced route packages- most of the throws he makes are one-on-one throws over the defense on straight lines. He does make a couple of good throws to the outside, but never on a pure out or crossing route- his high school offense schemes to beat people deep one-on-one. Up the seams and up the sidelines, those are the two main routes- incidentally, those were Logan Thomas's big routes, though I think he's a more natural quarterback with more natural throwing ability than Thomas did, but of course not necessarily the size or strength. He does throw with a good amount of accuracy and anticipation, so the more difficult route packages might be something he's plenty capable of learning and throwing. He's not afraid to step up in the pocket and run and isn't afraid of throwing into traffic- he does generally find a good spot in the zone to throw to and puts it in the best spot for his receivers. I actually think he's got a good ball fake, which is always good to have- play action is consistently one of the best ways to improve a quarterback's effectiveness.
So is Hooker better than Faniel? I believe so, but not like he buries him. He's also not an in-state guy, but this goes back to my argument that you have to go after talent. It doesn't matter where. Tech found a ‘better' option than one it had, and moved to go with it. I can't blame them, and I hope none of us do. But the process a recruit goes through and the state of recruiting in general is such a fluctuating thing that it's hard to pin down. Either or neither of these guys could commit or be the next Hokie quarterback. We can only wait for signing day 2017, which is a ways away.