There wasn’t an award that our staff had a harder time picking than the Newcomer of the Year award. With lots of new faces stepping up like Josh Jackson, Reggie Floyd, Sean Savoy, and Deshawn McClease; there were plenty of worthy candidates.
Despite the competition, one guy stood out by the slightest margin to be our Newcomer of the Year.
Josh Jackson was named the Newcomer of the Year, a selection that was far from unanimous showing how many talented newcomers the Hokies had this season. The redshirt freshman QB wasn’t perfect this season, but had a solid season overall with some big performances in big games including a game to remember against West Virginia.
Jackson had one of the best seasons for a freshman QB across college football finishing with 2,991 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions on a 59.6% completion rate. Jackson also was able to make some plays on the ground with 324 rushing yards and 6 rushing touchdowns including 50+ rushing yards against two of the best opponents’ VT faced: WVU and Oklahoma State.
Josh Jackson did receive plenty of criticism this season given the fact that he is the focus of the offense and some of it was warranted at times. However, the fact that Jackson was able to have this type of season despite having no experience with an offense that lacked experience at almost every skill position outside of Cam Phillips is quite impressive.
Jackson doesn’t have the biggest arm, but he showed some great accuracy a lot this season that made up for his lack of arm strength. Jackson is limited with his mobility, but he has enough speed to make himself into a running threat that defenses have to respect even if his speed isn’t that great.
Jackson’s confidence did suffer towards the end of the season, but that was largely due to the increased pressure and hits he took due to not having Yosuah Nijman at LT, and instead having a messy situation at LT. However, we saw Jackson’s play improve against Oklahoma State, and a full offseason after a year as a starting QB should do wonders for his development.
Deshawn McClease received lots of consideration for this award after his first full, healthy season for the Hokies. McClease was quiet at times during the season, but finished with 265 yards in the final 3 games on his way to leading the Hokies with 530 rushing yards in addition to having 3 touchdowns an averaging 4.9 yards per carry while being the only VT RB to have more than 100 rushing yards in a single game (vs. Oklahoma State).
Deshawn McClease gave the Hokies a spark in the backfield with speed and acceleration that couldn’t be matched by another Hokie back. McClease also displayed great patience and above-average vision that helped him breakout especially as VT’s offensive line improved late in the season.
Sean Savoy received a vote for this award as the true freshman WR had the best season of any true freshman for the Hokies with Oscar Bradburn being the only player that might have a case otherwise. Savoy was second on the team in receptions and receiving yards with 39 receptions for 454 yards, 4 touchdowns, and an average of 11.6 yards per reception.
Sean Savoy was a weapon for the Hokies who could be used anywhere from the slot to being an outside receiver while also being effective as a runner at times off jet sweeps including his incredible jet sweep TD against Georgia Tech. Savoy struggled against Oklahoma State, but had a strong season outside of that including an impressive 9 catches for 139 yards and a touchdown against Boston College.
Reggie Floyd was the only defensive player to receive any votes for this award, and the only player who received votes that also made our top 10 Hokies’ countdown at #9. Floyd was third on the team in total tackles with 72 while also having 3 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles.
Floyd developed into a defensive playmaker by the end of the season and was a guy who could lay some heavy hits or force important turnovers. More than that, Floyd showed the type of hustle and work ethic that embodies the lunch pail mentality Bud Foster seeks to instill in his players.
Stay up with our top 10 Hokies countdown and our TLP Awards here.