For the second time in two days, a second-year player has announced he is leaving the Virginia Tech football program. Sophomore receiver Sean Savoy announced his intentions to transfer and is leaving the program immediately.
On Sunday, redshirt freshman linebacker Rico Kearney tweeted he was leaving Blacksburg for an opportunity further showcase his talent.
Humbled beginnings ✊ .... leaving it in God’s hands. pic.twitter.com/xvVKByhQ3x— Rico Kearney (@38savage_VT) November 18, 2018
Before we delve too deeply into this, these things happen every year to every program. The culture we live in now encourages players to leave when things aren’t given to them immediately. That may upset some people, however, it’s the truth. Gone are the days of players competing for spots. Those are the things that made teams better. Multiple players competing for the same spot.
The NCAA transfer market has also changed things. It’s created a free agency of sorts in college sports and it’s not good. Let me be clear, I do think players should have the freedom to transfer if a coach leaves or they are having a hardship in their personal lives. There are always extenuating circumstances.
Now, as it pertains to the Hokies, the first losing season in over 25 years has a way of changing things. Players are going to leave. Some by choice, others not by their own choice. A situation like this allows coaches to evaluate what players are fits and what players were a bad evaluation. This much is certain, we didn’t see this much turnover didn’t happen under Frank Beamer.
So, is head coach Justin Fuente the problem? We’ve heard how good he could evaluate and coach talent. But has he? Outside of a few blue-chip talents like Devon Hunter, Tre Turner, Dax Hollifield and Quincy Patterson, several of Fuente’s signees are the ones currently leaving the program. Is that due to a bad evaluation or a coaching issue? Or just an unhappy player?
You didn’t see a host of Beamer’s former players transferring with this frequency. In the case of Kearney, he was terrific in the loss to Boston College. It was his first career start and he finished with 18 tackles. Now there is more to a strong performance than just total tackles, however, Kearney brought a physicality and intensity this defense has lacked in 2018 outside of Hollifield. He certainly warranted a longer look, even when starter Rayshard Ashby returned.
In Kearney’s tweet, he indicated he wasn’t getting the opportunities he felt he deserved. And, I agree with Kearney. He goes from playing—and making a major impact—to not playing in a matter of two weeks? I don’t blame him for being upset. It’s not like the guys ahead of him are lighting it up. With respect to Ashby, he’s played well, but not so well that Kearney shouldn’t play.
As for Savoy, he was really good as a true freshman last fall and appeared to be a major part of Virginia Tech’s future. However, this fall fellow sophomore Hezekiah Grimsley moved past Savoy on the depth chart and he appeared to regress on the field. Savoy dealt with personal tragedy in 2017 with the tragic loss of his older brother.
The coaches put him in a horrible situation in the loss to Georgia Tech, asking him to return a punt inside Tech’s own 10-yard line. Savoy would allow the punt to hit his facemask and the game was essentially over. In defense of Savoy, he hadn’t returned a punt in two years for the Hokies. Another coaching misstep.
Both Savoy and Kearney appear to be good kids. Frustrated and talented, but looking for a bigger opportunity. Here’s hoping they find success elsewhere. Hokie Nation should pull for these kids, too, as they did nothing wrong.
I would expect more news in the coming weeks in regards to attrition. I am not sure of any names, but there are a lot of rumblings in Blacksburg about unhappy players. We can blame whoever, but it all starts with the head man himself and things continue getting worse for Fuente.