This is the second part of our interview with head coach, Justin Fuente. You can see the first part of our conversation here. Virginia Tech had one of the greatest comebacks in school history against Arkansas in the Belk Bowl. I asked Fuente what stood out for him in 2016, and what the 2017 edition of the Virginia Tech Hokies might look like.
Gobbler Country: What are some of the takeaways watching the team during spring practice? Any particular players really impress?
Justin Fuente: “I’m probably not going to discuss individuals just because I’m going to unintentionally forget someone. Spring is a great time of year where you can coach and teach. Seeing the evolution of guys from the start of spring to the spring game is always exciting. Hopefully we see some of the same sort of strides from the summer as we get ready to start fall practice.”
GC: Jerod Evans, a JUCO transfer, had a monster impact for the Hokies last season. Do you think that JUCO players will be a bigger part of your plan in the future?
JF: “Jerod was a pretty unique individual who happened to be available and was someone we already had a relationship with. In the right situation and for the right individual there might be a circumstance where a JUCO guy fits for us, but they’re not going to be a staple of our program by any means.”
GC: Are there any specific goals for this season you feel comfortable sharing?
JF: “I’ve been on the record about how I felt about the way our seniors stepped up and embraced our approach last season. That group of seniors helped set the tone for our entire team last year. We’re about being hard, smart and tough. Just because we won 10 games last season there are no guarantees we’ll do it again. There’s no time to put it on cruise control. Our margin for error was very narrow last year and it will likely be that way again this year. We need everyone to step up and have a sense of urgency every day in order to improve and maintain our edge.”
GC: Beating the Irish at Notre Dame, and the incredible bowl comeback were two of my highlights from last season. What memories stick out for you in your first season at Virginia Tech?
JF: “Those are a couple pretty good ones. Hokie Nation more than lived up to its reputation. I remember our fans sitting through a hurricane in Chapel Hill and our kids celebrating with the fans at Duke and Notre Dame. Getting to send that senior class out with a win in the Belk Bowl, those were all great memories.
“Getting to really know Frank and Cheryl Beamer has been really cool for our family as well. We’ve gained two fabulous friends. They have been so gracious to Jenny and our girls. In the back of my head, if I’ve got a tough decision, I try to think about what Coach Beamer would have done when he was sitting in this chair. Don’t know if that counts as a memory, but I know we’re awfully fortunate to be at Virginia Tech and to have so many fellow Hokies embrace us.”
GC: Are you in favor of the current graduate transfer rules, and what, if any, changes would you make to that or transfer rules in general?
JF: “First and foremost, it should be about a young man who wants to continue his education or get another degree. As long as we maintain a legitimate educational component to it, I’m fine with the rule.”
Special thanks to Justin Fuente, and Pete Moris for helping make this happen. We look forward to some great results on the field this season. Make sure you follow us on twitter @gobblercountry , and check out our facebook page! We offer great recruiting news, interviews, and all things Virginia Tech.