The beginning of the Justin Fuente era is 40 days away with fall camp 10 days away from kicking off on August 4th. With that said, we kick off our 2016 preview of the Hokies with a preview and depth chart prediction of each position by starting with quarterbacks.
There may be multiple position battles entering fall practice but one stands above the rest by far, the starting quarterback battle.
Entering the fall, the race for the starting quarterback spot is still open though Justin Fuente’s comments show it’s down to two, Jerod Evans and Brenden Motley. Now, Evans and Motley likely will have two or three weeks to earn the job with Fuente likely to make his choice at least a week before the Hokies open against Liberty to give the winner of the battle time to build chemistry with the first team offense.
Jerod Evans seems to be the favorite at this point even as sources tell us that it was fairly back and forth this spring between Evans and Motley. However, it was Evans who stood out in the Spring Game with over 40,000 fans watching and seems to be the likely frontrunner, especially since he has now had a full spring and summer with his new teammates.
Evans definitely has the greater upside of the two quarterbacks as Evans is a very mobile athlete that can make guys miss or even run through a couple of smaller defensive backs. Evans showed in junior college that he has a very good arm and that he has the potential to be a very accurate quarterback even on the run.
In the Spring Game, Evans was able to put together some solid drives against Bud Foster’s defense but the biggest concern has to be that Evans has not had as much time to build up chemistry on and off the field with Isaiah Ford, Bucky Hodges, and Cam Phillips. If Evans can make a quick, strong impression, he may be able to win the job within a week or two with the Hokies shifting their focus to building that chemistry.
Brenden Motley may not have the same upside as Evans but Motley does have major collegiate experience after filling in for Michael Brewer last year and also can be a playmaker as a runner. Motley brings experience with the Hokies’ main receiving trio of Ford, Hodges, and Phillips which could also make a big difference.
Motley does not have the same arm talent that Evans has but Motley should be able to find a role even if it is as a Wildcat-style QB that has the speed and athleticism for Justin Fuente to find some way to get him on the field. Motley’s veteran collegiate experience could make a big difference though if this battle stays neck-and-neck while also being someone that veteran offensive players are more comfortable with due to how Motley will be a redshirt senior this fall.
Motley’s best chance to win the job was likely if he would have had a decent lead after the spring but Motley now seems to be slightly behind, but Motley shouldn’t be ruled out despite having an uphill climb. Right now though, Evans seems to be the favorite.
Behind Evans and Motley is a battle brewing for who the future is between Josh Jackson and Dwayne Lawson. Most assumed that Lawson was the long-term future entering this spring with a chance to even leap over Evans and Motley to win the starting job now. Instead, Lawson has faced some struggles while Jackson showed this spring that he may be the next QB after Evans.
Jackson was quite impressive in the Spring Game leading the Hokies on a touchdown drive and showing impressive poise and accuracy for a quarterback who just arrived in January. Jackson has seemed to gain a decent grasp of the playbook rather quickly while also showing solid arm strength though not the same arm strength as the very athletic Lawson.
Jackson has solid mobility and while he might be a running quarterback, Jackson has good mobility to escape the pocket or even get out and gain a few yards on the ground if he needs to. Jackson still has a lot of developing to do athletically but Jackson already seems to be getting the playbook down well for a freshman while showing the potential to be a QB with a lot of poise.
Meanwhile, Dwayne Lawson knows that he needs to take a big jump this fall as he definitely has the talent athletically with probably the most arm strength on the team while also being the fastest and most agile QB on the roster even over Evans. However, Lawson has struggled to get a grasp on the playbook, and with Jackson showing a lot of potential and grasping the playbook well, the pressure is on for Lawson to step up mentally.
Lawson will likely be the QB if Evans and Motley get injured whether Jackson is ahead of him or not as the Hokies will definitely want to redshirt Jackson this fall, but Lawson will want to get ahead of Jackson now. If not, Lawson’s future may lead him away from Blacksburg.
Behind them will be a couple walk-ons headlined by Jack Click who was the only quarterback of this group that redshirted last season. Click has made some strides and provides solid depth behind the four guys ahead of him. Justin Fuente and Brad Cornelsen also probably hope to see Click’s development to continue at a good rate with the ideal hopes that Click could play and allow them to comfortably redshirt Jackson still if Evans, Motley, and Lawson all got injured.
With that said, here’s our prediction for the QB depth chart at the end of fall practice.
QB Depth Chart Prediction
- Jerod Evans
- Brenden Motley
- Jos Jackson (Redshirt)
- Dwayne Lawson
- Jack Click
Evans has more upside than Motley and it would not be surprising to me to see Evans wrap up the job within two weeks of camp starting to allow him time to build good chemistry with his new receivers. As mentioned above, Lawson may play before Jackson but Jackson has emerged as the QB of the future after Evans after a strong spring while Lawson’s future may be away from Blacksburg.
Tomorrow, we’ll continue on with a look at running backs and fullbacks.
Check out the home of our 2016 Virginia Tech Football Preview right here.