Head Coach: Justin Fuente
2016 Record: 10-4 (6-2 ACC)
Over 9 wins (+116); Under 9 wins (-140)
Odds to win ACC Championship Game: +950
Odds to win 2017 Title: +9500
Odds c/o Bookmaker
The NFL Draft was cruel to the Virginia Tech Hokies. And to the trio of talented players that declared. After years of searching for a QB, the Hokies finally found one in a JUCO player, Jerod Evans, but his success misled him into declaring for the draft—and going undrafted.
The same fate befell its top two receivers, Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges. Those declarations robbed the Hokies of its three best players from last season’s team, and it leaves head coach Justin Fuente frustratingly searching for replacements on a roster that has plenty of talent, but not quite as much experience to match it.
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The fact the Hokies need to find a replacement at QB is the most troubling of the holes, and it will look to redshirt freshman Josh Jackson, JUCO product AJ Bush (formerly of Nebraska) and true freshman Hendon Hooker to find its solution behind center.
The Hokies do have a talented core of young wide receivers once they figure out who will hoist the passes to them. Senior Cam Phillips will be the No. 1 option, augmented by the sophomore Eric Kumah and freshman Kalil Pimpleton.
Last year, however, Evans also led the team in rushing, and Virginia Tech is hoping its leading rusher this year comes out of the backfield. Travon McMillan had 1,000 yards two seasons ago, and he returns, as well as fullback Steven Peoples.
The line also returns three starters, but it lacks depth and that is a familiar theme for Hokies fans, it seems. There are a lot of questions all around on offense, and the team averaged 35 points per game last year, ranking No. 33 in the NCAA.
There should be a fall off from that production, and given that the team yet to establish a starting quarterback (or at least had not after spring), it could be a long season offensively for Virginia Tech.
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Defensively the Hokies were very solid last year. Virginia Tech allowed 22.8 points per game, ranking No. 29 in the NCAA while also sporting a pass defense that allowed just 200.2 yards (No. 26) per game. The defense returns both its linebackers, senior Andrew Motuapuaka and junior Tremaine Edmunds.
The secondary is good to go, too, with Brandon Facyson, Greg Stroman and Adonis Alexander—along with Terrell Edmunds and Mook Reynolds at the safety positions.
Virginia Tech also has top recruit safety Devon Hunter, and he will be a boost when he gets to campus in the fall. He should complete with Reggie Floyd and Khalil Laddler for the starting rover gig.
The biggest questions, however, for the Hokies are in the front, where it has to replace three starters from last year’s squad. Tim Settle and Ricky Walker both should be ready at defensive tackle, but at defensive end there are more problems to be solved. Vinny Mihota and Trevon Hill could be answers, but health issues linger for both options.
Virginia Tech does have one of the best ACC kickers in Joey Siye. He hit 20 of 27 FGA last year and was 58 of 59 on extra points. He lacks range, and was not good from longer distances, though. He hit just 1 of 7 beyond 40-yards. Freshman Australian Oscar Bradburn will be the punter.
Overall, there are just too many problems for Virginia Tech this year for it to improve on last season’s 10 wins. NCAA football oddsmakers wholeheartedly agree in setting the over/under for its wins at ‘9’ this year. Fuente had a nice first year in coaching the team to double-digit victories last year, but he was really thrown for an ugly loop when his top three offensive players thought they had what it took to be selected in the NFL Draft.
The worst part is that they were just so wrong, and so not only do their careers possibly stall out after going unselected, but the Hokies are so short on options to replace what they bought to the team last year. Perhaps it will teach following Hokies players a lesson, perhaps not, but whatsoever the case, expect Virginia Tech to regress from 10 wins to eight or nine, with the ‘under’ on 9 wins being a rather attractive value bet for those as bullish as we are on the Hokies’ prospects this season.
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