Virginia Tech is the No. 17 team in the country according to the preseason Amway Coaches Poll, released earlier Thursday afternoon. The Hokies received 524 votes from coaches around the country to receive their ranking.
While coaches from other programs thought the team is deserving of a Top 25 ranking, Virginia Tech’s own Justin Fuente didn’t have the team on his ballot.
Fuente, speaking at a preseason press conference on Thursday, said he left the Hokies out of the Top 25 because he believes they have to earn their way in.
Justin Fuente did not have the #Hokies ranked on his preseason ballot. Why? "I don't know. I knew I'd be asked about," he joked. Seriously, though, thinks VT needs to earn way in.
— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) August 2, 2018
That sentiment was echoed by tight end Chris Cunningham, who said he wants the team to “earn it the hard way.”
#Hokies TE Chris Cunningham on Fuente not voting VT into Top-25 Poll "I do like it. We got to get it the hard way. That's how I was brought up… I don't want anything handed to me. I like the story much better when I work for it."
— Matej Sis (@MatejS247) August 2, 2018
Fuente also stated his belief that the first polls shouldn’t be conducted until week 4 of the season so that teams can be properly evaluated based on their body of work to that point.
#Hokies football coach Justin Fuente doesn't think there should be preseason Top 25 polls. Thinks polls shouldn't start until after Week 4, so we're judging off a sample. Editor's note: He is 100% correct.
— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) August 2, 2018
The Hokies started the 2017 season ranked No. 22 in the preseason Coaches Poll, but dropped three spots throughout the year to finish No. 25 in the poll’s final rankings.
Coming off a 9-4 season, many expect quarterback Josh Jackson to improve on his impressive freshman campaign. The offseason has not been kind to the Hokies, though, as multiple members of the defense have left due to graduation, the NFL Draft, injury and disciplinary reasons.
Virginia Tech opens up the 2018 season with a Labor Day matchup at Florida State. The Seminoles start the season ranked No. 19 in the Coaches Poll after finishing last season unranked. With a young team and a new head coach in Willie Taggart, the Seminoles are expected to improve on their uncharacteristic 2017 season.
The matchup on September 3rd will be the first between the two programs since 2012. FSU won that game 28-22 in Blacksburg.