There is little or no doubt about the number one thing on most Hokie football fans’ minds this off season; Quarterback. The position is dominating the “we just don’t have a clue” list of things that are big unknowns for the 2017 season.
The intent of the Summer Roster review is to take the existing Spring Roster, add the new freshman (or off season pickups) players who will be suiting up for practice in August. Then try to make a best guess effort at figuring out the first 3-deep Depth Chart that hopefully will be out before the or second scrimmage.
Currently there are six quarterbacks on the roster, and not 1 snap of official Division 1A college football between them. That’s the “Exp” column, and when it has a “-“ that means “ZERO, ZIP, NADDAH”. To be fair we will walk down the chart in number order.
|2||Hendon Hooker||-||6' 4"||196||Fr.||Greensboro, N.C.|
|5||Ryan Willis**||-||6' 4"||211||Jr.||Overland Park, Kan.|
|6||A.J. Bush*||-||6' 4"||219||Jr.||Alpharetta, Ga.|
|11||Jack Click||-||6' 3"||218||r-So.||Glen Allen, Va.|
|17||Josh Jackson||-||6' 1"||211||r-Fr.||Ann Arbor, Mich.|
|18||Chase Mummau||-||6' 2"||183||r-Fr.||Mechanicsville, Va.|
*Junior College Transfer – Eligible this season
** Transfer from a 1A School (Kansas) and not eligible this season
The first QB on the list is Hendon Hooker. He’s tall, but lightly built for a 6’4” quarterback. At 194 he’s not thin but not huge, either. That means that there will be fewer purposeful running opportunities for him. There is a good 30 pound difference between him and Jerod Evans (232) as a comparison. The one inch that Evans gave up in height makes the lower weight total for Hooker just a bit more significant. From observation during the Spring Game, Hooker has nice footwork. He looks like a fairly methodical reader but it’s difficult to tell in near scrimmage conditions of a low contact intra-squad game where no one wants to get hurt. Hooker’s high school numbers are impressive; 6,027 yards, 55 touchdowns, and 2,975 yards for touchdowns rushing the ball. But at his size that rushing number is truly reflective of the uneven capability distribution of high school football teams. Though, Fuente’s offense does call for QB runs, it can be shaded toward the more advantageous method, and Hooker has proven that he can throw the ball with good accuracy. The Evans based offense was a bit of an aberration with Evans ending up being the feature running back and mostly Sam Rodgers doing the distraction and alternate outlet function. We’ll have to see how the new (yes, it’ll be new – especially for HH) offense starts to shape up. Hendon Hooker has a real opportunity to keep his Maroon jersey instead of the usual freshman red.
The second Quarterback on the list is the only one with real college snap experience but Ryan Willis really shouldn’t be in this conversation, fully, for the moment. NCAA rules require that an undergraduate transfer student-athlete to sit out for a season. This means that Willis will practice; he’ll do everything that a Redshirt will do, but he’s not eligible to suit up and play on Saturdays. This will be his opportunity to learn and compete for the job in the 2018 through 2019 seasons.
A.J. Bush is the third QB on the list, and has a junior college back ground. He’s starting off life as a Hokie just like Jerod Evans did, as a Junior with two seasons of eligibility. Bush has a long path background. He started his collegiate life with the Nebraska Cornhuskers, redshirting one season and then riding the pine for the next. He ended up transferring to Iowa Western Community College in order to get some playing experience. Even there he didn’t get much of an opportunity to shine too brightly. The 6’4” 219 pound (219? How about 220 and leave it at round numbers?) Junior played a respectable few snaps at the Spring game. Bush did enough to garner some attention and had one of the highlight throws to Caleb Farley. He also had the last big play of the game. Bush is looking like he has an opportunity to compete, but he’s going to need more reps in game-like conditions before he’s completely ready to take snaps on the field, live. No one should count Bush out, and I fully expect him to challenge for the starting depth chart in August.
Jack Click is more than likely to remain the scout team quarterback. I know that might disappoint him and the Jack Click fans in Hokie Nation, but it’s really difficult to be a walk-on QB and push that into a starting position, short of a massive run of horrible injury luck. Jack did get to take a couple of snaps in the BC game but both resulted in runs that netted 1 yard. Click has decent balance, and size at 6’3” and 219, he’s not a small young man. He throws a respectable pass, but in the two Spring games that we have observed him he’s gotten few first team reps. What he has gotten he has made the most of, though. Jack Click might be a surprise next season.
Joshua Jackson is next in line for numbers. Funny, we haven’t had a #17 starter that I can remember; I’ll have to do more research. Jackson is not a tall QB. He’s listed at 6’1” (and we know about those stat listings – something about two pairs of socks and ¾ inch cleats and such). Sometimes when I see him out on the field he reminds me of Tyrod Taylor. He’s mobile, but not “pull the ball down after 1 read and run mobile”. He looks like his running skills are more aligned to the get some room to throw, or get out of trouble sorts of runs. He’s still thought of as a dual threat, and he certainly did pull it in and run a couple of times in the Spring Game, but he’s still going to make his bread and butter making quality hand-off reads, and using his feet to buy him time to find receivers downfield. Joshua Jackson is going to make lots of us think about what it would have been like to have Justin Fuente coaching Tyrod. While that doesn’t completely mitigate the butterflies over a lack of experience under center next season. It does make me smile at the prospect, though because I loved every single minute of Tyrod Taylor on the field for Virginia Tech. Jackson might well be a revisit to those days.
Number 18, Chase Mummau might have been the interesting view of the Spring Game. He got more than a few snaps and handled himself pretty well. Without really official stats it’s difficult to express to you. Mummau is a redshirt Freshman with a few seasons to prove himself.
Well, those are all of the Quarterbacks that Coaches Fuente and Cornelsen have to work with. Frankly, it’s not a bad problem to have, though it might be more than annoying for some of the players. Not many kids suit up to joyously sweat through practices on the scout squad. So to conclude this, I owe my best guess estimate of the 2017 Season 3-Deep for the West Virginia Game.
OK Folks here’s opinion time. It’s based on nothing more than observation and gut instinct so please take it in that spirit. Voice yours in the comments, please. Don’t be shy.
The Starting QB will be Joshua Jackson. He’s been with Coach Fuente for a full year, now. He’s learned the offense with the rest of last season’s football team, and he’s seen what is expected of him on and off the field. Jackson has excellent pocket skills, and his handoff read decisions are good. That read-option is critical in the Fuente offense, and given Jackson’s Tyrod Tayloresque stature and skill set those reads are going to have to be good enough to keep him off of the injury list. Jackson’s passes aren’t darts or rockets, but they are good catchable balls within a reasonable zone of accuracy. He can throw the outs, wheels, and the digs that are critical to Fuente’s read patterns and his athleticism will work well with the fast snap pace that the team maintained most of last season.
The backup will probably be A.J. Bush. Yes, you saw me write that. Bush played well enough to give Coach Fuente a good look at how much he has improved since his days on the Huskers, and at community college. He ran the offense reasonably well, and has some on-field experience that the others do not possess. Bush is only eligible for two seasons, so I see Fuente getting him involved and keeping him there.
The 3 slot will be a fight, but that will be between Chase Mummau and Jack Click. The clipboard will probably go to Click, who is now very acquainted with the offense, and looks great with a headset and play sheet. Besides, running the scout team will be a real advantage on the field for whomever the starting QB happens to be.
I am detecting a red jersey for Hendon Hooker, not because he’s not capable. His performance in the Spring game was absolutely rock solid, except for his missed read that resulted in a pick. It was a “he went that way” and I threw it “this way” situation. It’s not opportunity stopping, but there are several things militating against putting the true Freshman on the field this season. The first is that there are capable starters in the mix who have lost their redshirts and are now into eligibility. Keeping a talent like Hooker in the system for a year allows him to mature and grow into it. If he’s good enough to win the starting position in 2018, or even 2019 he’s still got loads of eligibility left. I see no point in burning a redshirt for him this season.
One thing that we have seen is that Coach Fuente is not shy about offering Quarterbacks, with a number of stars floating around their heads, scholarships. The current crop can expect to compete for the job each year. I don’t think there will be a “lock” on the position for any season, unless someone here shows up big like Tyrod Taylor or Michael Vick.
Come August we’ll get to see how far off I am. I don’t think that I am for No. 1 though.
Next up, Receivers – the new QB is going to be throwing to mostly new WRs, that’s for sure.
What’s your Prediction for the 3-Deep QB Roster for the West Virginia Game?
This poll is closed
Hooker, Jackson, Bush
Jackson, Bush, Click
Jackson, Hooker, Bush
Bush, Jackson, Hooker