Despite concerns, Justin Fuente will return to Virginia Tech for 2021 season

After an up-and-down 2020 season, Justin Fuente will return to Virginia Tech for the 2021 season — his sixth with the program.

Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock is expected to make the decision official this week.

Functioning with a depleted roster, Virginia Tech jumped out to a 4-2 start this season. However, the Hokies went winless in the month of November — four straight losses. The stretch of play included some questionable late-game coaching decisions, too. But Virginia Tech closed the season with a win over Virginia, which bumped the record to 5-6 and returned the Commonwealth Cup to Blacksburg.

Fuente’s time in Blacksburg started with great promise; Virginia Tech won 19 games across his first two seasons. That arc included a division title in 2016, too. Over the last three seasons, though, the tide shifted in the wrong direction. The Hokies have just 19 wins in their last 37 games.

The mediocre on-field product has been backdropped by a variety of personnel turnover — with both players and staff. Veteran defensive coordinator Bud Foster retired after the 2019 season.

Complicating matters, Virginia Tech’s recruiting has slide in the wrong direction, too. After signing three straight top-25 recruiting classes (2017-19), Tech’s 2020 class ranked 76th nationally (No. 14 among ACC teams), according to 247 Sports.

With 24 commits, Virginia Tech’s 2021 recruiting class currently ranks No. 44 in the FBS, per 247 Sports.

On Tuesday this week (Dec. 15), Fuente’s buyout with Virginia Tech will drop from $12.5 million to $10 million.