The Virginia Tech Hokies are back on the practice field Friday. Yes, football is back. Ok, it’s not actual football, but there are players back on the field, competing against one another as we sit less than six months until Virginia Tech’s 2022 season opener.
Spring practice is an important aspect of college football — especially for a new coaching staff. Pry met with the media this week to preview the spring and tackle several topics. He seems genuinely excited for spring practice, finding out what he currently has on this roster.
In discussing spring practice, Pry acknowledged there was a clean slate for everyone.
“The other piece that is providing a lot of energy right now is that it is a clean slate for everybody and there are a lot of guys right now that feel the opportunity, which is real,” Pry said, per Evan Watkins of 247Sports. “Guys that can impact the team. That’s what the message has been. You’ve been sitting in the wings on that third or fourth rung and you don’t feel like you should be, well show us. This is the time.”
Here are some things we learned from Pry’s Wednesday media session ahead of spring practice:
Devon Hunter no longer on the team
The former four-star recruit is out of eligibility. Many believed Hunter would have an extra year due to college athletes gaining that extra season due to COVID-19. It’s unclear if his suspension negated the additional year. Hunter played in 10 games as a freshman in 2017, redshirted in 2018, played in all 13 games with two starts in 2019, before being suspended in 2020.
Hunter returned in 2021, appearing five games, before an injury in October ended his season.
It’s a sad ending for Hunter who arrived in Blacksburg with so much promise. Hunter was popular with the former coaching staff, his teammates and the current staff. Hunter wasn’t your typical top-tier recruit in the aspect that even though things weren’t always going his way, he continued to work hard and was the model teammate.
Pry likes Connor Blumrick
Remember how many believed Connor Blumrick would be forced out once the Hokies added the two quarterbacks via the NCAA transfer portal? Not so fast. Pry is a big fan of the quarterback/offensive weapon.
Pry mentioned Blumrick as being in the competition to win the quarterback job, but acknowledged he was one of Virginia Tech’s best 22 players and wants him on the field, regardless of whether it’s at quarterback or not.
“Connor is one of the outstanding athletes on this football team,” Pry said, via Andy Bitter of The Athletic. “He’s long, he can run, he competes, he’s smart. We’ve got to find a way to make sure he’s getting some opportunities. And not just if he’s not our quarterback, then where is he helping us. Because to me, if I had to rank our 22 best players right now, he’d certainly be on that list.”
It’s nice to see this coaching staff as having a plan on how to get the best football players on the field. Blumrick is an exciting player, but hardly a polished passer. There is room for his skill-set on the field.
Pry, Robert Marve speak highly of Chamarri Conner
Chamarri Conner has been one of Virginia Tech’s best players over the last three years. He’s played in 50 career games, making 37 starts, all in the past three seasons. Conner has never missed a game. He has been honored as an All-ACC performer in each of the past two years.
Despite playing all four years, Conner, like linebacker Dax Hollifield, had an extra year of eligibility, thanks to COVID-19. While Hollifield told everyone he was returning last fall, Conner held off his decision. Pry and defensive coordinator Robert Marve are pleased with Conner’s decision.
“Chamarri has a phenomenal skill set,” Marve said, via Chris Coleman of Tech Sideline.
“To plug him in and say ‘he’s going to play this specific position right now’, I don’t think that would be fair to say,” Marve said. “But what I can say is that he’s a tremendous asset for us as a team, both because of his mindset and his maturity, but also because of his skill set.”
Conner has played different positions since arriving in Blacksburg and his versatility will not only help the Hokies in 2022 but also enhance his NFL future.
Pry echoed Marve’s sentiments.
“Chamarri had a great winter,” Pry said. “Really a great worker, always at the front of the line.”
Conner, Hollifield and Silas Dzansi will not only play important roles in 2022 but they will also be counted on to be team leaders.
There will be attrition
Pry discussed attrition, saying there would be “a lot” attrition by the end of spring.
Virginia Tech #Hokies HC Brent Pry "I expect a lot of attrition, to be honest. As we get into spring and out of spring."— Matej Sis (@MatejS247) March 16, 2022
Says right now the guys are eager to prove themselves, but when it comes down to spots being filled - there won't be room for everyone.
There will be attrition because there needs to be attrition. Right now, it’s about Pry and his staff finding out who belongs. There will be players who want to leave for a better opportunity, and there will be others who won’t have a spot. It’s a harsh reality from Justin Fuente’s six years of roster mismanagement.
The Hokies need attrition to make the numbers work. And Tech will also want to dip its toes back into the transfer portal for experienced players who can contribute in 2022. For that to happen, some will need to leave.