Virginia Tech Football: 3 Surprising Options the Hokies Could Consider at QB
For most of the lead-up to the 2014 season, most analysts prognosticated that Virginia Tech’s coaching staff would either stick with veteran Mark Leal or try out an incoming freshman at quarterback, but some recent developments have opened up some new possibilities for the Hokies.
As a fifth-year senior, Leal has long seemed like the front-runner for the job heading into spring practice.
But if he fails to impress this spring, any discussion of the Hokies’ other options have largely centered on Tech’s trio of impressive quarterback recruits in the 2014 class.
However, that kind of thinking excludes the potential for the Hokies to give some surprise contenders a look.
In fact, there have been some recent rumblings that the Hokies are contenders to land a pair of different transfer QBs, either to push Leal for the starting spot or give the team some veteran depth.
Either way, the coaches seem as if they won’t be limiting the quarterback competition to just the obvious players.
Read on to learn about some of the other surprising contenders for Tech’s top QB spot.
One option that is already lurking on the depth chart is redshirt sophomore Brenden Motley.
He hails from Christiansburg, Va., just 15 minutes from Blacksburg, but by all accounts, he’s more than just a local boy who is taking up space on the roster.
Instead, he is an athletic, talented quarterback who could push Leal in spring practice. He was expected to make some noise and battle Leal for the top backup role in the team’s last spring practices but suffered a knee injury early on that limited him going forward.
This time around, he’ll get a chance to show what he can do.
He was a 247Sports' 3-star recruit coming out of high school, and he received interest from fellow ACC schools like Georgia Tech, Virginia and Maryland.
At 6’4” and 185 pounds, he has the size for the position, and he’s flashed some impressive athleticism in his high school highlight reels.
However, he is an unknown quantity, and his early injury history stopped him from getting the kind of work with the second team that Leal had behind Logan Thomas.
But he’s got time in the program, which none of the freshmen can make a claim to, and some local media members have been touting his starting prospects for some time now.
Motley might not be a household name now, but he’ll likely get at least some consideration for the starting job, and it’s probably deserved.
The Hokies don’t have a history of testing college football’s transfer market, but that might be about to change.
According to The Associated Press’ Ralph Russo, former USC quarterback Max Wittek is considering Tech as a destination for his final year of eligibility.
He has already visited Texas and is also reportedly considering Louisville, Hawaii and TCU.
Since he’s scheduled to graduate this year, he only has one year of eligibility left, so he’ll likely be heading wherever he can get the best chance at starting.
That means that he must have had some productive discussions with Tech’s coaches, if he got the sense that he could swoop into Blacksburg and immediately get a crack at the top spot.
He never reached his potential at USC, but he could still be worth a look for the Hokies, as The Roanoke Times’ Andy Bitter explains:
Although Wittek hasn't produced much in college, he was a four-star prospect coming out of Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, Calif., in 2011. Rivals listed him the No. 3 pro-style passer nationally that year, behind Jeff Driskel (Florida) and his eventual teammate Kessler.
He had a load of offers, including Clemson, Florida State, Notre Dame, South Carolina, UCLA and Florida. He visited a Florida practice in April of 2010, according to Rivals. The Gators' quarterback coach at the time was Scot Loeffler, who is currently the Hokies' offensive coordinator.
However appealing Loeffler and the Hokies may seem, they’re up against some tough competition.
Texas only brings back David Ash, a favorite of the Mack Brown era who suffered through a concussion-ridden season, and new coach Charlie Strong might feel pressured to lure in the veteran QB to win right away.
Similarly, Louisville is trying to make a statement after Strong’s departure and is tasked with replacing star Teddy Bridgewater.
But Tech could still be a tempting destination for Wittek, and the fact that he’s even interested is a telling sign about the team’s confidence in Leal.
Wittek isn’t the only transfer quarterback whom the Hokies are considering.
According to Mike Barber of The Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Hokies have also had talks with former Texas Tech QB Michael Brewer about a possible transfer.
Unlike Wittek, he’ll have two years of eligibility remaining after he graduates this May, but he does share some things in common with the former USC star.
He redshirted in 2011 and played briefly in nine of the Red Raiders’ games in 2012, but he never made an impact at the school. After suffering a back injury in June 2013, he was unable to win the starting job in Lubbock, so he quickly began looking elsewhere for starting experience.
Tech would offer him a chance to get just that, and his extra year of eligibility would give him flexibility to learn for a year before competing with some of the other, younger players on Tech’s roster.
By all accounts, Brewer has talent. He was judged a 3-star pro-style prospect by 247Sports during his initial recruitment in 2011, and he chose Texas Tech over Auburn, Kansas and Tulsa.
It seems like he too could bring something to Tech’s roster, even if it’s only extra depth in the short term.
But the coaching staff’s interest in Brewer, as well as Wittek, shows that the position is a concern.
Clearly, Frank Beamer and company are looking for competition for Leal at the very least, if not his outright replacement.
Beamer has long stood behind his veteran backup, but there will be plenty of options in Blacksburg should the coach choose to look elsewhere.