Josh Jackson took control at quarterback for Virginia Tech last summer, earning the starting job as a redshirt freshman. Jackson won out over former Nebraska quarterback and JUCO transfer A.J. Bush, as well as true freshman Hendon Hooker. Bush has since left the Hokies, announcing plans to transfer to Illinois.
Jackson had a solid first season as a starter for the Hokies, completing 59.6 percent of his passes for 2,991 yards and 20 touchdown passes against nine interceptions. He added 324 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the ground.
Heading into 2018, Jackson has the inside track to the starting job once again, though he’ll be pushed this summer by Ryan Willis, Hooker, and true freshman Quincy Patterson.
Willis elected to transfer from Kansas to take his shot at the helm of the Hokies offensive unit. After spending the 2017 season running Virginia Tech’s scout team offense, Willis threw for over 250 yards and two touchdowns in VT’s spring game.
Hooker has been battling for the starting job ever since he arrived in Blacksburg in the winter of 2017, but he has yet to take a snap in a game for the Hokies. That will change this fall, but it remains to be seen if Hooker will be Jackson’s primary backup, or if he’ll be the No. 3 quarterback, behind both Jackson and Willis.
Along with Hooker, VT is adding another 4-star signal-caller, Patterson, in the summer. So the Hokies certainly aren’t lacking in quarterback talent heading into the new season.
Patterson probably won’t factor into the starting quarterback battle in 2018. The big question is whether or not he’ll challenge for a spot in the two-deep, and thereby consideration to burn his redshirt. As was the case with Jackson and Hooker, however, Patterson is a solid redshirt candidate barring injuries, or unless he puts forth a huge performance in August.
Long way to go
Willis staked his claim to the No. 2 job with his solid spring performance. But he’ll need to really overachieve in summer workouts to supplant Jackson atop the depth chart heading into the Hokies’ Labor Day season opener at Florida State.
Justin Fuente hasn’t had a two-year starting quarterback since his days at Memphis, when he worked with current Denver Broncos signal-caller Paxton Lynch. But so long as he’s not turning the ball over, Jackson has the edge as Virginia Tech’s projected starter.
Jackson did a relatively good job protecting the ball last season and largely avoided catastrophic errors, such as pick-sixes. He has the edge in experience, as well as familiarity with VT’s offense. Unless he gets hurt, Jackson will take the field with the Hokies’ starting offense for the first series against the Seminoles.
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