Change is in the air in Blacksburg. Throughout the first couple of weeks of spring practice, we’ve seen new Virginia Tech head coach Brent Pry update the media on multiple position changes, position battles and the overall state of Hokie football.
Pry’s openness with the media is a breath of fresh air for Virginia Tech fans wanting more access or information about the program. Former coach Justin Fuente was more likely to crush a water bottle at the podium than update the media and fans on position battles.
One area where Pry has yet to provide clarity is the quarterback position — and for good reason. The head coach still doesn’t know who will be under center for the Hokies this fall. However, Pry hopes to have some clarity at this time next week, with Tech’s spring game on tap for Saturday.
Pry on naming a starting QB: "I would love to be able to name a guy at the end of spring." Said they won't do it if they're not ready, though. #Hokies— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) April 6, 2022
Virginia Tech fans would prefer to have no drama at the quarterback position. After years of mismanagement at quarterback, Pry is starting over at the most important position with three new faces, including two transfers.
Connor Blumrick and Tahj Bullock are back. However, Blumrick is practicing with the wide receivers and tight ends, as Pry wants to keep him on the field as much as possible, but not necessarily at quarterback. Bullock is entering year two in the program.
The leading contenders to start for Virginia Tech in 2022 are a pair of transfers: Jason Brown and Grant Wells.
Brown is a 6-foot-2, 229-pound graduate transfer from Fredericksburg, Virginia. Last season, Brown started four games for South Carolina, going 2-2 as a starter under Shane Beamer. Before he enrolled at South Carolina, Brown played at St. Francis University. In 2019, Brown was an FCS All-American, passing for 3,084 yards, 28 touchdowns and only six interceptions.
Wells comes to Blacksburg from Marshall. The 6-foot-2, 203-pound Charleston, West Virginia native started the last two seasons for the Thundering Herd. He appeared in 23 games and completed 64% of his passes for 5,626 yards, with 34 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.
So, who has the edge? As of now, neither, but that’s not because Brown or Wells have been bad. Both have had their moments this spring. I’d probably lean on Brown as the pick if the season were to start tomorrow. I tend to lean toward Wells, for which passer may have the highest upside in the offense. Wells has a big, accurate arm and can stretch the field.
As for Brown, his experience in the SEC is a positive. Brown also has a strong arm and can use his legs in the running game.
Virginia Tech quarterbacks coach Brad Glenn mentioned that SEC experience in a chat with the media last week, per Andy Bitter of The Athletic:
“Jason’s been in big games in the SEC there with South Carolina, in big moments and big environments,” Glenn said. “And you can’t replicate game experience, and I think that has shown early on in spring ball with us.
Glenn also mentioned Wells’ experience, but it is difficult to replicate that SEC experience.
Glenn didn’t shy away from praising Wells either.
“I think he processes information fast,” Glenn said. “I think he sees the field very good. Not everybody with quarterback talent can play quarterback, if that makes sense. He’s got the skills, he’s got the talent, but the way he flies the plane and the way he can operate through progressions and reads with his vision, kind of separates him a little bit.”
The competition between two experienced passers this spring is a good thing for the Hokies. Regardless of who wins the job, you will need both players in the fall. While the Hokies may not have Michael Vick or Tyrod Taylor under center, they have a much better quarterback situation than one year ago. Talent hasn’t always been the issue for Tech’s quarterbacks in the past (see Hendon Hooker); it was coaching. Fans hope Pry, offensive coordinator Tyler Bowen and Glenn can rectify those issues.