Hokies Continue Their March Through Spring Football

Virginia Tech football is quietly going through spring practices.

[Virginia Tech Athletics]

Normally by the end of March all Virginia Tech athletics-related attention has circled back to football. However, with Buzzketball in the midst of a Sweet 16 run, it almost feels weird to hear from Justin Fuente and Co. But the show must go on, and the Hokies' spring practice is well underway. Several players and coaches discussed how practice was shaping up with the massive assembly of media members (read: three) in attendance Tuesday morning.

Get Your Mind Right

To say the least, it was a bumpy offseason. But according to defensive lineman Jarrod Hewitt, that rocky road has melted away.

"I guess the difference would be kind of letting the outside stuff happen," explained Hewitt. "All the transfers and whatever was going on, just kind of let that happen. We just came here, got to work, and when we got back here we were all excited to get back working. Make our name for ourselves and put it all, that last season, behind us. It's really just having fun, coming to work, and having a good time and enjoying our time and enjoying ourselves."

#ItStartsNow trended as the rallying cry in Blacksburg since January 23, moments after the first tweet was sent.

"I can't remember the first one who said it but the 'It Starts Now' as in 'whatever happened before, if you're here or you're not here now, it's a good luck to you. No ill will towards you'," said Hewitt. "But we're here to win football games and we're here to have fun. Just really go to work. That was the big piece, man. It starts now. It's time to get to work and it's time to get ready for the next season."

And according to defensive back Divine Deablo, the effort across the board in spring camp has been ratcheted up.

"Intensity has definitely increased," said Deablo. "We're flying around and we're juiced every practice. Trying to get better and doing the extra things, like getting in the weight room after practice. Doing the extra work."

It's an encouraging sign, but the next step is for that effort to translate to on-the-field results this fall.

Divine Is Doing Just Fine

Deablo was never 100% healthy last season (ankle, hamstring), and he struggled to make an impact. That was a difficult position for the free safety to be in, watching Tech's defense struggle (No. 77 rated per S&P+), but not contributing at full capacity.

"It is pretty tough," admitted Deablo. "Sometimes I feel like I'm putting my team at risk. I always try to fight through it and try to put my team in the best position possible."

But now he's healthy, and expectations are sky high. Fuente gave a peek behind the curtain and shared his thoughts on Deablo's overall situation.

"I think it was two years ago he was really making progress," said Fuente. "And he had an interception and broke his foot. That's when he was creeping in to being an every down player for us. And then, you know, last year we were trying to find a way to get him through the week of practice and onto the field. Very little crossover work. But the thing about Divine is that he's got such a great outlook and such a great work ethic. We pulled him out of most of our offseason running and even sent him across campus to have him tested for any imbalances. I feel like he had been, I don't know if this is very scientific, this is just a football coach talking, I feel like he dealt with so many lower body issues that he was dealing with more issues because he had been compensating for the other things. So we just kind of removed him from that and tried to get him as balanced out strength wise as we could. Hopefully, that continues throughout the spring. Continues to stay healthy and have a good spring and have a great summer and ultimately have the season we all know he's capable of. He's highly intelligent, he's tough, he's a very popular with our kids in terms of being well liked and very mature. We've all got our fingers crossed that it continues to go well. Nobody deserves it more than Divine in terms of having opportunities to have success. Because he's been through so much and he's such a great person."

Bowling Ball or Not, Holston Looks to Get Rolling

Injury also hampered the development of running back Jalen Holston. The absence of a redshirt opportunity plus a nagging knee injury in the offseason between his freshman and sophomore year stunted his physical development. His production and touches suffered (281 yards on 57 carries). Thus far this offseason has been more accommodating.

"This has been the offseason that he's needed to have," said Fuente. "And I don't mean physically, I mean within the team. He's much more confident, much more vocal in a positive way out there on the field. I think he feels better. His body feels better, feels stronger, feels in better shape. He's been raring to go. I've been really pleased with him. We singled him out before practice and he made into the top 10, as of right now, in our hard hat competition. Which is a pretty elite group. For right now. There's still a long way to go. I think he certainly deserves to be recognized for the work he's putting in."

Holston agreed with positive impact it's had.

"The health part goes into the mental and physical part of the game," said Holston. "I feel like that's something I was missing last year was the mental wise. I feel like this year, now all the work I put in, going over with my coaches, my teammates bringing me up, I feel like it's really beneficial."

Holston will attempt to fill the void left behind by Steven Peoples. The rotund and physical running back who exhausted his eligibility last season was described by the coaching staff as a bowling ball. At 5-11, 219, Holston doesn't care about descriptions or comparisons as much.

"Peoples is a different type," said Holston. "I like to go hit. If you want to call it a bowling ball, you can call it that."

A running back that is no nonsense and wants to go out and hit people. Sign me up.

Beef, Pancakes, And More Beef

High school valedictorian Vance Vice sung the praises of his position room. While it's true that freshmen and sophomores project to make up a fair amount of the OL two-deep, there is still a sense of maturity and experience.

"Some days we're learning left and right," noted Vice. "Obviously, keeping it simple right now so these guys can be physical. I love our athleticism. I love our work ethic. It's probably the best it's been since I've been here. All these guys can move around. But there's a lack of game reps in some spots. And you know, we don't look at that as a problem or as something that is going to prevent us from getting done what we need to get done. We look at it as an opportunity to get guys in here and get them on the same page. And this group does an unbelievable job at doing the extra stuff. There's not a day that they're not up here on their own working on something, whether it's film or it's footwork. It makes my job easier and this is a fun, fun group to coach. Because they all want to be good. I've got competition at every spot. Legitimate competition. And they're all pulling for each other. I've seen more in four practices of guys helping each other than I have in four years. I mean, young guys, old guys, some young guys helping old guys, old guys helping young guys. I'm blessed with their work ethic. We haven't gotten there yet, where we're going to be, but we're going to work every day to get there."

Vice noted that this time of year is when the offensive line gets to match up with all kinds of Bud Foster's schemes, fronts, and blitzes. That type of experience in the spring against one of the best defensive minds in the country helps the offensive line mature at a faster rate than some other teams.

"Spring time, it's obviously a time where it's all about development and growing up," explained Vice. "You've got young and you've got old and it gives you a chance to slide guys around a little bit. We don't have a big number right now to do that with. Obviously, we don't have our incoming class here right now. A little bit less than we've had in the past in the spring, number wise. But you know, it's a great time of year. You get to go out there and experiment if you will with a couple things and the scoreboard's not on. So it's always a good time."

Fuente provided some additional tidbits to take note of when at the podium.

The Hokies will scrimmage for the first time on Saturday. It won't be a scrimmage to determine a depth chart, but more to see how the players react to a real game situation.

"It's their first time to really live tackle," said Fuente. "We do a lot of drills centered around tackling, but there's really no substitute for live work. So we'll get live work in terms of that, you put the kids on the field and take the coaches off the field, it's a whole new world. It's one thing when they're standing behind you, it's another thing when you're out there by yourself. Particularly in the first scrimmage, we won't get caught up in scheme as much as 'who can go out there on their own and go play?' And do what we're asking them to do on a consistent basis."

Quarterback reps still figure to be split evenly between Ryan Willis, Hendon Hooker, and Quincy Patterson.

"We haven't had that discussion [equal QB playing time] specifically," said Fuente. "Standing here right now on Tuesday, I don't see why it would be any different on Saturday. Obviously, leading into that scrimmage, we'll have a discussion. But right now, that's how exactly how it would be."

Speaking of quarterbacks, Fuente shed some light on Patterson's development. He hasn't divulged much on the progress of the prized four-star signal caller.

"It's an ongoing process as it is with all those young quarterbacks," explained Fuente. "He continues to work and get better and have an understanding of what's going on on the other side of the ball as much as what his players are supposed to be doing. He's going to have to continue to get reps. He's going to need to continue to work to do that. I think it's in there. At what rate it happens, I do not know. I do know that I see marked improvement from him on a consistent basis. As I have with Hendon over the last couple years. And Ryan to some extent. The rate with which that comes, we don't get to determine. But I do know it's in there."

It's not the most encouraging update, but Fuente did come to Virginia Tech with a reputation as a 'quarterback whisperer'. Those skills will be put to work when it comes to developing the former 4-star and Elite 11 finalist.

Comments

Good write up!

But man oh man have I lost every bit of excitement about football season (never thought this could happen).

:o(

I hate to say it too, but the moment I saw this article I thought the same thing.

Expecting a mediocre season and a coach that gives us no insight. I've got more important things to do with my time.

I totally disagree. I'm expecting improvement at every position, at least nine wins, and a very realistic shot at a coastal division title. I'm expecting an explosive offense, above average defense, and a team that could upset anybody on a given Saturday including Clemson.

However it is hard to focus on that because the biggest game in the history of our basketball program is on Friday.

I almost always had this enthusiasm but looking at our schedule who exactly are we playing that we would consider beating this year an upset? Notre Dame probably and everyone else we are expected to win, but with little confidence after last year. Makes me think we know what we should do this year with relative ease but setting the bar that high only leaves me open to underwhelm. Sorry to be such a Debbie downer just feeling meh about football in general for multiple reasons this year.

who exactly are we playing that we would consider beating this year an upset? Notre Dame probably and everyone else we are expected to win

Miami would like a word. And so would LOLUVA. If Bronco continues to out coach Fuente (and I mean that he is doing much more with much less), then its possible we roll into that game as underdogs (I know that seems crazy with the streak and all).

Is it basketball season yet?

Exactly my point! We have to consider uva as a potential upset win this year after beating them 15 years in a row!? Not the dream scenario I was hoping for in 2019. But I know I'm just being overly pessimistic and will prob come around by season time so pardon my grumpiness!

You seem to conflate "upset" and winning as an underdog - all while using the words "If" and "it's possible". Even if UVa is favored come late November, it almost certainly won't be by much and a VT win would hardly be an "upset".

Blasphemy!

Obviously this isn't the attitude of all of HokieNation, but I am just as interested in the football program as I have ever been. Coming off a tough season I am eager to get the bad taste out my mouth and start again. And I see a lot to be excited for.

Oh that's right we have a FB team. Individual NC in wrestling...Sweet 16.

"Hey Bud, you wont have to hold the opponent to 17 points anymore."

I tried unsuccessfully to keep my excitement down last season, but got too amped up after the FSU game and ultimately had my heart broken. I will be more careful this year. Show me.

Show me.

Damn straight! Exactly my sentiments. Prove it.

Waho's suck
Uva swallows

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

Did anyone else notice how many times in this video he was a full step behind the whistle (for example at the :38, 1:00 and 1:45)? Is there a reason not to be concerned about that?

Ut Prosim Ad Dei Gloriam

I didn't even hear whistles at 1:00 and 1:45. Waaait, is this an April Fool's joke?

You are right. There was a whistle for the first but not the other two I pointed out. In the second, he was with another player who clearly changed direction much faster than Dax did.. In the third, he looked as if he was spinning his wheels (but that may have been part of the drill). My real point was that, in my non-expert eyes, he seemed to be considerably slower to react than I expected a rising star to be.

Ut Prosim Ad Dei Gloriam

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

LMAO

.

.
.and Whit puts on his batting gloves and steps up to the plate....

Should Deablo be talking about juicing? I mean this is a football team, not after a pilates workout. I understand you have to hydrate but juice has a lot of sugar in it, I think they could do better than that, but you know unkind of understand, fresh juice is amazing.

Like steroids? After last year maybe they all need to start juicing. /s

Gaines could use some gains.

Will Jeremy Webb be healthy enough to play this season? Assuming he will, he's supposed to be pretty good, right? Do y'all think he will be a contributor?

We a basketball school now

We a basketball wrestling school now

ftfy

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

High school valedictorian Vance Vice

Was he really? I feel like we need to give Vice a different superlative every time we mention him.

Ol' boy Vance Vice...

Country music star Vance Vice...

Snot-nosed rhinoceros Vance Vice...

Baseball-cap-wearing musk ox Vance Vice...

etc.

Vance has the most degrees of anyone on staff, was a teacher at one point, science I think.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

No bullshit?

Smartest mullet you ever done seen Vance Vice

Intercontinental Champion Vance Vice

The Mouth of the South: Vance Vice!

If you're reading the above post and thinking, "is this guy serious?!?," you can safely assume I'm not.

We need to call him VVV, V3, or Triple V (Valedictorian Vance Vice). He doesn't come across as your typical valedictorian, unless it was in elementary school.....haha.

"That man was violating a city ordinance, and I was just doing my duty to enforce it." - Mike Curtis

"You boys in there smokin' rope?"-Johnny Unitas (circa 1973) to his San Diego Chargers teammates

I thought he was home schooled? s/

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

I find it interesting that this thread has been up for 5 days and only has 23 comments.

"Hey Bud, you wont have to hold the opponent to 17 points anymore."

Guess everybody is trying to recover from all the Buzzketball interest.

"That man was violating a city ordinance, and I was just doing my duty to enforce it." - Mike Curtis

"You boys in there smokin' rope?"-Johnny Unitas (circa 1973) to his San Diego Chargers teammates

Hadn't really heard anything coming out of the camp...and i hadn't really taken much interest in it to be honest with you...there are not stats released from scrimmage..no clips or anything...all we will get our 30 second - 1 minute of slow motion vids...thats fine..wake me up when the first game comes, because thats when we will be able to see the team..

With the "iron curtain " around the football program what's to discuss that has any fact to it?

At first, I thought everyone rumbling about walling off press access was a bit of pissing and moaning. But after several years of this I can definitely see the effects in my waning interest.

Fuente/Whit need to get this addressed quickly before the problems get worse.

I agree...Beamer really seemed to embrace Hokie Nation and for all of his faults, we embraced him as well. Fu talks about Hokie Nation...but im not sure how much he values us...this is what made VT one of the toughest places to play because the fans really felt like the 12th man...and we were connected to the team in a way that very few fanbases were...

I've never forgotten what someone said in another thread here "Fu lets us know when he needs us.."

He did. And a significant chunk of Hokie Nation was ready to fire him both before he started winning and several years before he left.

I don't question how much Fu values HokieNation, as you do. Perhaps he truly believes the team will be most successful with limited fan access to spring practice. If so he is sincerely serving HokieNation best. We want success in the games more than anything. You may feel he's misguided in thinking limited access helps the team but it seems far-fetched to think that means he doesn't value HokieNation. He just doesn't value HokieNation the way you'd like him to.

I understand why they do it...they get exactly X amount of time to get done what they need to get done; and then layer recruiting on top of that. There is no free lunch, there is a time cost involved in granting unlimited press access.

As a fan I'd like to see more...hell, I'd like like to see practices live streamed. But it has no impact on my interest in the team.

There is a time and money cost associated with any marketing campaign. But the football program at VT is a business and as such the marketing of the program cannot be ignored due to focus on operations only.

I don't disagree; but they need more staff to handle the demands. It is not reasonable for the coach to be in charge of and participating in executing the marketing strategy/campaign, especially during the very limited window for player development.

Welcome to the club. Virginia Tech football used to have year-round interest in Blacksburg, even during the lean years, now it's trending to a 4-month sport. Such a shame. Both media and fan access has been restricted to the point that spring football barely makes a peep. And again, disengaging the fanbase runs perpendicular to the effort of fundraising.

I am of this thinking. It's real weird to not be talking about VT football all the time, let alone *during* spring practice. A huge part of it is Fuente's unwillingness to pull back the curtain.

With that said, a lot of us (except for vtkey and fernley, who are having a delightfully dry semantics argument over on the Buzz thread /s) have at least one eye on hoops and the slowly brewing mystery there. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Fuente LOVES the lack of attention - shall we be optimistic and say "these are the trappings of being a (gasp) two-sport school"???

You're the only ones that I can talk to about this, you guys.

It is so crazy that the football tram had a scrimmage yesterday and we have not heard a peep about it.

Interest by the fans is falling really quick. It's not just this fan website. All of the major ones are ghost towns.

I will not be surprised when the stadium is 70 percent full this year, especially since the current young generation rather watch twitch Esports. It's the age of social media and fan interaction. How do you expect to get donors and build.

I would say, look at what F1 racing has done with all access to teams and driver's. They are seeing a huge growth in fans because they are fully utilizing social media.

I get that we all would love more coverage of the team, but does not having Spring ball matter THAT much to everyone that they won't attend games in the Fall?

I see less VT football than most. If I was anywhere close to Blacksburg I would attend as many as I could.

I am not agreeing with Fuente's decision. I also think it's stupid and if he doesn't start winning more it's essentially a nail in the coffin, but not seeing Spring Ball doesn't diminish my excitement for watching VT football in the slightest.

It is hard to assign a value to hype and hope considering I have never known a Hokie Football team without both. It seems to me that the pros heavily outweigh the cons when considering more team coverage. If they want to have 100% control of the coverage, then they need to drastically up the quantity and quality of the content.

"with all due respect, and remember I’m sayin’ it with all due respect, that idea ain’t worth a velvet painting of a whale and a dolphin gettin’ it on" - Ricky Bobby

It's not about spring ball. It's about continuing the tradition of being a football school. I feel pretty confident that this spring game will have the lowest turn out of current students. Everyone on this forum and other fan sites are legit Tech Football fans, we will continue to be there, but I have numerous friends who I graduated with that have lost all interest in the team. The number of people outside the internet that I can talk about the team, recruits, etc is going down.

Also, the owners of this website are trying to sell a premium content service but they are barely getting enough content to just have a weekly report on the team with a few quotes.

The long story short is this is not how you build donors out my age group, young thirty year olds reaching the stage in their careers where they could donate.

Yeah I definitely agree. It's plain stupid. I understand wanting to keep playbooks locked down and all but this is a dumb decision without doubt. hype and money go hand-in-hand, and this decision subverts both.

I'm still excited to watch VT football though.

Anyone else feel mmmmhhhhh about football now after that exciting b-ball season? That team was fun to watch and full of decent kids, and the tourney run was the coolest thing I have participated in for VT sports in a while now.

Maybe it is just extremely low expectations for the football team and the taste left over after last season, but I am feeling blah about football.

Also, if we were allowed a spec of media converge that the b-ball team pushed out, maybe I would feel differently. I know nothing about the football team. Fuente is great at one thing, allowing zip, zero, zilch insight into the program. I know Buzz is unique and this video may not be some folks flavor but Fuente has a great example of how to promote a team right across his way.

That video of buzz praying for the seniors...I'm not crying. You're crying.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

I'm crying...even if you aren't.

VHokie

Me too my friend. Not to add religious content to the thread per guidelines but I love what Buzz reads too as a book by Mark Batterson (Christian Author) called "In a pit with a lion on a snowy day" has Buzz as an editorial reviewer and he impresses me more and more with his life and his coaching. Fantastic author and book IMO. Go Hokies.

Jeremiah 29:11 and Go Hokies!

It's pretty telling that the biggest story coming out of spring football is whether or not Buzz is leaving. Dear Fu, you're doing it wrong.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

So you're enjoying all the angst about Buzz?

No. But Buzz took the least competitive team and ACC basketball and galvanized support for it.

Fuente had arguably done the opposite to college atheltic's cash cow (football) in 3.

VB born, class of '14

Buzz to TAMU 223 comments. This topic,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 47

"Hey Bud, you wont have to hold the opponent to 17 points anymore."

The less there is to disscuss, the less discussion. The less discussion, the less hype. The less hype, the less new ticket holders. Never though I would miss the one paragraph quote in the news palate from Beamer to promo the Spring game. "we have a lot guys that are flying around. We are not there yet, but he likes the way we are working toward it, and the older guys are taking leadership to help the young guys. We may not be as experienced, but we are fast, and may be the most talented yet. Good effort, and (fan favorite returning players) are really stepping up, or coaches like where they are at now."

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

If you didn't read that in Frank's voice, you read it wrong.

15 Straight

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

"April Fools! We don't give a shit if former players/staff come back to be around the program"

/s

15 Straight

"Also attending:"

Ha! Gotta love family...

Little brothers gotta know their place.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

there was a scrimmage Saturday. and I have not heard a PEEP about anything that went on. does ANYONE have any inside info as to how it went? who performed well, who struggled, anything at all? shesh. Its like the media in Blacksburg have been kidnapped. not a word about buzz Williams, hokie spring football, transfer portals, pro day (not much) nothingggggggg!

twitter @smithey_daniel
head scout BSP scouting specializing in north florida/ southern GA highschool football scouting

At least Frank would go up to the podium and tell us about a few guys, and how" they will get after ya". I cant imagine that all of our opponents really care that much about our practice.

Fuente is a "buzz"kill.