BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) – Bud Foster isn’t sure he’s ever had a player show up for preseason camp at Virginia Tech as ready to play as Kendall Fuller – and Foster has been the defensive coordinator since 1995.
Fuller will be the fourth and last of the Fuller brothers to play for the Hokies. He’ll likely start alongside brother Kyle, a three-year starter, at the Hokies’ cornerback spots.
“Kendall’s been to a lot of games here,” Foster said of the 5-foot-11, 200-pounder. “He’s been to a lot of practices here. He’s been here all summer. His brother’s had an opportunity to go over everything and walk through everything. He’s had a spring practice under his belt without even being in spring practice. It’s just refreshing to see a guy who has good abilities, that has tremendous football IQ, to come in that early and be ready to go. But again, he hasn’t taken a college snap yet.”
The Hokies tested his abilities in camp.
“As far as I can tell, he’s a kid who’s come in and mentally has picked up a lot of different positions,” defensive back coach Torrian Gray said. “We had him play nickel and a few other spots to this point in camp and it seems to not faze him at all, which is amazing from that standpoint.”
Fuller credits his brother, rather than his five-star recruit status, with most of that.
“He’s helped me a lot just learning the defense since my season ended,” the younger Fuller said of Kyle, who followed brother Vincent to Blacksburg. “That was a big help knowing the defense a little bit already and now getting into the more difficult things. Learning the simple things first was a big help.”
Third brother Corey spent two years at Kansas running track before transferring to Virginia Tech. He was second on the team with 43 receptions last season. The older Fuller, Vincent, graduated in 2005 and was also a defensive back.
Having his brother on the field with him will make his senior season special, Kyle Fuller said. Regarded as their best defender a year ago, he had an injury plagued season and struggled mightily.
Foster expects Kyle to be back up to speed, and with his brother not far behind.
“It’s a little different in practice than it is in the game, but I think he’s a guy that at least has the makeup that I don’t think that will affect him as much as maybe some other freshman when it’s all said and done,” he said. “There’s a lot of redshirt freshmen on this football team that will be playing their first college snaps and even though they’ve been a year in the program, the best way to get better is through game experience, not practice experience. I think as good as I see what I like right now, he’s only going to continue to grow and get better, which is very encouraging from our side.”
Foster and the Hokies will quickly see how encouraging right from the start. They open against two-time defending national champion Alabama on Aug. 31 in Atlanta.
His has a simple view of the challenge: “Welcome to college football.”