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Virginia Tech Hokies 2019 Roster Review: Quarterbacks

Now that we have the starter, let’s review the quarterback situation. Regardless of who the starter is, now, as we saw last season that’s no guarantee that now is later... Let’s take a look at the top three and visit the other depth positions to see what might be happening in the next few seasons.

There are some Hokies who are upset that Ryan Willis is the starting quarterback for the BC game (and presumably the season). Before we get to a summary of the roster, let’s look at the probable reasons why Ryan Willis has earned the starting spot.

  1. He basically earned it over the course of the 2018 season. Yes the record was disappointing, and there were some inconsistencies; but Willis changed the dynamic of the football team and offered play calling possibilities that did not appear with JJ on the roster as the starter. The offensive talent was not the problem last season. The problem was systemic and game plan oriented. That’s on the offensive coaching staff. With the last 8 months to figure it out, there should be a better mesh of talent, planning, and execution.
  2. He is still the most experienced player at the position. There is no substitute for actual snaps, that factor is going to weigh heavily in any player’s favor. It’s just the laws of physics for football (or any sport for that matter).
  3. He seems to have developed some really positive relationships with key players on the field, especially Damon Hazelton, Dalton Keene, and Tre Turner. Those three players are going to be key to the 2019 offense, and the better they work with Willis, the better off the passing game will be.

There are some issues that will have to get some more positive attention, though.

  1. He is a more than a bit of a gunslinger. College offenses are pretty tightly wound and controlled from the sideline. Deviations are not popular with most coaches, and out and out innovation gives them a serious case of the chatters. Willis looks like he’s more willing to riff a bit more from the pocket.. or out of the pocket... than the Hokie coaches would like. There were quite a few passes that were fit into tight windows, or were flat out jump balls. Those just don’t fly well. That he got away with most of them didn’t seem to register with the coaches as positive things.. just “lucky”.
  2. Sometimes his throw selections were a bit “off”. If a pass underneath to get the 1st down was the high percentage throw, he seemed to bite on the deep ball too often resulting in unconverted 3rd and long situations. Now, some of that was 1st and 2nd down play calling failure so wagging the bloody finger at Willis isn’t exactly fair, either. Put a gunslinger under heavy pressure to pull out miracle 3rd and long after miracle 3rd and long - eventually he’s going to make a mistake. It’s the nature of the beast. So Ryan needs to fix the tendency, but Cornelsen does, too.

All in all Willis still grades out well. He’s on several QB watch lists, and looks like he’s the consensus starter from the team’s perspective as well as the coaches.

Let’s take a look at the #2, 3, and the surprise overload of people in the wings.

Virginia Tech Hokie 2019 Quarterbacks

Number Name Position Height Weight Class Hometown High School Previous School
Number Name Position Height Weight Class Hometown High School Previous School
5 Ryan Willis QB 6'4" 216 R-Sr. Overland Park, Kan. Bishop Miege Kansas
3 Braxton Burmeister QB 6'1" 203 R-So. La Jolla, Calif. La Jolla Country Day Oregon
2 Hendon Hooker QB 6'4" 218 R-So. Greensboro, N.C. Dudley
4 Quincy Patterson II QB 6'4" 245 R-Fr. Chicago, Ill. Solorio Academy
12 Knox Kadum QB 6'3" 181 Fr. Rome, Ga. Rome
9 Luke Bussel QB 6'1" 201 Fr. Chesapeake, Va. Greenbrier Christian/Fork Union
6 Trevor Jackson QB 6'3" 187 Fr. Leesburg, Va. Riverside
Virginia Tech Hokie 2019 Quarterback Roster Data Courtesy of Hokie Sports

Seriously Good Two

The named #2 QB is Hendon Hooker, who by all reports, including Coach Fuente, had an excellent off season. He’s solidly cemented himself into the 2 position on the depth chart, and that’s not insignificant given that he’s only a redshirt Sophomore, meaning that after this season he will move into the odds on favorite to take the #1 depth position for his Junior and Senior seasons. With most non-superstar college QB’s playing in the final two years of eligibility, this is a great development for Hooker. He’s learning the offense well. He’s tall, fast, and has gained some serious muscle and conditioning. The relatively lightly sprung kid out of high school has become a fast, strong, and well toned player who fits the Fuente/Cornelsen QB mold very nicely.

Expect to see HH on the field this season. Not only are there 2 FCS opponents that will allow for some quality snaps being given to the backups, but there could be other opportunities. Getting Hooker some touches in interesting situations might lead to some excitement. He can pass, and he certainly can run. Now that he is better at choosing which one to do, when there will be opportunities.

Three and Idle

Quincy Patterson II finishes out the starting roster with a firm grip on the clipboard for the #3 slot. Patterson is something a bit interesting in that he’s the exact same type of QB as both Willis and Hooker. He’s tall, well sprung, fast, and smart. That some folks wanted him in already is an interesting attitude; but unless there was some sort of total personnel meltdown or serious injury, Patterson would never have been selected to start this season. He’s only a redshirt Freshman, and still has some learning to accomplish. He’s going to be a capable 3. Whether or not he gets his hands on the ball this season will depend. We’d all prefer to avoid those particular contingencies. He did see a few snaps last season. Who knows? QP2 will be a factor for at least four seasons so patience is warranted.

The probable #2 or #3, Braxton Burmeister really shouldn’t be on the roster list this season. The NCAA in its usual even handed decision making process has ruled that Oregon transfer Burmeister is ineligible for the season and must sit out. All GC will add is “No Comment”...

The remainder of the list are Knox Kadum, Luke Bussel, and Trevor Jackson. They are true Freshmen, and though Kadum has the biggest bragging numbers of the bunch from high school... well... they’ll all probably be redshirted for 2019.

The Skinny

We are good at Quarterback. We really are. All three of the players on the three deep play the same sort of game. All three are about the same size, and the same capabilities. All of them reportedly had great Spring and Fall practices, and we are going to see more of them this season. Willis was the consensus starter since last season. (Fuente is a pro forma competition sort of coach - no one is entitled to any position.) The reality remains that it was going to be hard to knock Ryan Willis out of the 1 hole. Hendon Hooker evidently came really close, and having him as backup is certainly a measure of comfort for the coaches.

Tech has it’s Quarterback, and he’s not in Kansas anymore.


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