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Justin Fuente Checks In To Gobbler Country Part One

The head coach talks recruiting, what it means to play West Virginia in the opener, and a Clemson loss that still stings.

NCAA Football: ACC Championship-Clemson vs Virginia Tech Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Tech football can’t get here soon enough. Fall camp will be starting soon, and Gobbler Country was lucky enough to spend some time with head coach, Justin Fuente. Fuente is fresh off a Coastal championship, and we wanted to hear some insight from the man in charge as we head into 2017.

Gobbler Country: You wrapped up a very successful year one in Blacksburg. Were you surprised at all that you were able to lead this team to an A.C.C. Championship appearance this early in your tenure?

Coach Fuente: “Believe me, it had a lot more to do with our players and our coaching staff than it did with me. It was a collective effort, and that’s one of the things I love about football. It’s the ultimate team sport. It’s not about one individual, it’s about a group of Hokies setting their mind to achieving a goal, working hard towards that goal and persevering even when things are looking so good. I’m proud of what our team accomplished, but as I mentioned at ACC media days, it’s going to take me awhile to get over the sting of that Clemson loss in the ACC Championship Game. Now, it’s time to move on and start a new season. Our guys have been working hard in the off-season and are anxious to get on the field on August 1.”

GC: Has your recruiting strategy changed at all since last year? What were some of the lessons learned from your first signing day to the class signed this year?

CF: “Our strategy is going to remain pretty consistent. We’re going to make the best evaluations possible and then kids who will be great fits at Virginia Tech as students, as athletes and as members of the larger campus community. That’s not going to change. Now, will we have different needs at different positions and will that talent maybe come from different geographical locations on a year-to-year basis? Sure. But the process really is about evaluating how a young man will fit at Virginia Tech and is this a place where he can excel and succeed academically and athletically.”

GC: Playing West Virginia this season is huge for the fans. What are your thoughts about playing West Virginia at FedEx field at the start of the season, and how does this compare with the Battle At Bristol?

CF: “Our fans are unbelievable. Whether it’s at home at Lane Stadium or on the road, they never fail to amaze me with their passion, their dedication and their loyalty. Virginia Tech has a strong presence in the national capital region and it didn’t take long for our fans to gobble up our allotment of tickets. One of the most rewarding parts of the job to see your players celebrating with our fans after wins and hopefully we’ll give ourselves an opportunity to do that once again. Plus, we’ve got a number of NOVA kids on our roster, so playing closer to home in an NFL stadium is also going to be a cool experience for them.”

GC: If you could improve any particular aspect of the football facilities, what would it be?

“Whit Babcock and his team and their predecessors did a wonderful job of making sure there are top-notch facilities at Virginia Tech. Our indoor practice facility is second to none in the nation. Thanks to Steve Johnson, right now we’re renovating our team meeting space which should be complete soon. That will be a great improvement. As you look around you can see where there’s been an effort to continuing to improve and refine our facilities. We’ll continue to fine-tune things and add some nuances, but I’m really pleased with the space we operate in on a daily basis.”

GC: The early signing period has garnered a lot of national debate. Are you in favor of the early period, and how much of the class do you expect to sign in December?

CF: “If a young man and his family have made their decision and are ready to go ahead and make their decision official, that’s probably a good thing to have that option. In terms of how many of our recruits will want to go that route in December, I have no idea. At the end of the day, it’s a big decision and it’s going to be up to the families involved.”

Make sure to check out Gobbler Country tomorrow to see the second half of our conversation with Coach Fuente. Make sure to visit our facebook page and like it to receive all Virginia Tech news and highlights! Check us out on twitter for instant reaction and recruiting news.