Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente met with the media on Friday and discussed a variety of topics. First, there was the disappointing news of Raheem Blackshear’s eligibility waiver being denied by the NCAA.
However, Fuente did share some good news.
Jaden Payoute, a 6-foot-1, 206-pound redshirt freshman wide receiver from L.C. Bird High School in Richmond is one player the head coach singled out.
“I get really excited about the progress he has made. He’s worked incredibly hard and he’s grown leaps and bounds,” Fuente said.
Virginia Tech receiver Jaden Payoute still learning the position, but definitely an early player to watch, coach Justin Fuente said he's "grown leaps and bounds" even without spring/summer— michaelniziolek (@michaelniziolek) August 14, 2020
The Hokies need depth at wide receiver after the transfers of Damon Hazelton, Jacoby Pinckney, Hezekiah Grimsley and Phil Patterson. Tre Turner, transfer Changa Hodge and Tayvion Robinson are the only sure things at wide receiver this fall for Virginia Tech, so the emergence of Payoute could be big.
Payoute is still learning the wide receiver position and has good size and speed for days. He could be a dynamic weapon for quarterback Hendon Hooker.
Another player Fuente discussed was linebacker Amare Barno.
The 6-foot-6, 240-pound junior is now practicing with the defensive line as a defensive end. Fuente confirmed the news on Friday after a practice video leaked of Barno working with the defensive line.
Virginia Tech #Hokies Justin Fuente on Amare Barno moving to DE "I think he's gotten better every period of practice."— Matej Sis (@MatejS247) August 14, 2020
A junior-college transfer from Butler Community College in Kansas, Barno redshirted last fall. Former defensive coordinator Bud Foster and Fuente both spoke glowingly of Barno’s work ethic and athleticism last season. New defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton called Barno a “freak” back in the spring.
Barno’s athleticism could be a boost for this defense. He has the ability to play as an off-ball linebacker, while also boasting the ability to rush the passer. It was the right decision to have him also spend time at defensive end, too.
The linebacker room has plenty of depth and experience. With TyJuan Garbutt possibly out for the season, there is an opportunity at defensive end. Barno has the ability to make an immediate impact on the defensive line.
Don’t be surprised if Barno sees time at multiple positions this fall. The Hokies need the best athletes on the field and Barno certainly fits that bill.