It was a foregone conclusion for most of Hokie Nation that Bucky Hodges would delcare for the NFL Draft. Few would bat an eye if Isaiah Ford opts for the pros. After all, there are only so many Tech receiving records to be broken. However, the Virginia Tech faithful would be stunned if QB Jerod Evans forgoes his senior season in Blacksburg for NFL designs.
After Tech's improbable 35-24 Belk Bowl win over Arkansas, Evans passed on the opportunity to squash any talk of making the jump to the NFL.
Couple those post-game comments with a report (albeit single-sourced) that Evans is inclined to pursue a career on Sundays and Hokies are left scratching their heads.
Whether you believe Evans would benefit from another year of Justin Fuente's tutelage — his progressions, accuracy (especially on deep balls), and pocket presence all need to get better to play on Sundays — or that he is flat out making a mistake does not matter. There is plenty to speculate about, but ultimately it's Evans' choice to consider his circumstances and make the decision best for himself and his family. Perhaps it is as simple as he believes he is good enough to be drafted, which is all that matters.
Evans generated gaudy stats in 2016. He completed 268 passes for 3,546 yards (63.5%), 29 TDs, and 8 INTs. He also rushed 204 times for 846 yards and 12 scores. That production on the ground was good enough to lead Tech in yards and TDs. It really masked the Hokies inability to run the ball outside of Evans' contributions.
P5 QBs w/40 TD, 4K yds & 10 wins last 5 yrs: Tajh, Mariota, Boykin, Watson, Mayfield, C Kelly, Dak, Petty, Jameis, Manziel and... Jerod Evans.— David Hale (@DavidHaleESPN) December 30, 2016
Even though his numbers are comparable to other (projected) draft picks, Evans is not listed among Draft Wire's top 10 QBs, NFLDraftScout.com's top QB prospects, or WalterFootball.com's top QBs. In fact, it's a struggle to find Evans on any mainstream draft list.
If Evans does bolt for the league, the Hokies are in a precarious position. Quarterback depth would be perilously thin with Josh Jackson as the only scholarship QB on Tech's roster for spring ball. Fuente was bullish on Jackson's potential in August, and Jackson briefly flirted with winning Tech's QB1 job during camp. However, at the end of the day he did not beat out Evans, and Jackson has no game experience.
Hendon Hooker is committed to the Hokies' 2017 recruiting class, but would arrive in Blacksburg over the summer. Fuente identified the 3-star (247Sports Composite) Dudley HS prospect early in the recruiting cycle (relative to his employment at Tech), and that might bode well for his fit in Fuente's scheme.
As far as the Hokies' future on-the-field prospects are concerned, much like in December 2015, the (re-)recruitment of Jerod Evans is Virginia Tech's most pressing task this offseason.