Experience Is Helping Josh Jackson In Virginia Tech's Starting QB Competition

By: Tim Thomas | @TimThomasTLP | Apr 12, 2017
Coming into the spring, Josh Jackson was seen as the favorite to earn Virginia Tech's starting QB job after being a part of the Hokies' starting QB competition last fall while also getting to travel with the team, giving him opportunities to watch Justin Fuente's offense work in games while also getting to see Jerod Evans operate the offense and learn from the Hokies' one-year star starting QB. Jackson also entered this spring as the only one of the Hokies' three competing quarterbacks who had spent time in Justin Fuente's offense, another advantage for Jackson entering this competition as well. While Justin Fuente hasn't said if there's a leader or not, everything we heard says that Jackson has taken advantage of his time in the system and on the sidelines last fall to be the favorite to take the job. From what we're hearing, Jackson is currently in the lead for the Hokies' starting QB job with Hendon Hooker and AJ Bush not too far behind. While Hooker and Bush have had to learn the system, Jackson has been able to refine his ability to operate Virginia Tech's offense while being able to work more on developing some of his skills overall as a quarterback while having lots of experience to carry with him according to Fuente.

"He is working consistently on some thing, some minor things mechanically to help him deliver the ball a little bit quicker. He has continued to improve that part of it. He has a good understanding of what we're trying to accomplish, I think that's improved. He's no longer the wide-eyed freshman in there. He's made some steps along the way from a technique standpoint and from an execution standpoint."

Even last spring when Josh Jackson had just arrived as an early enrollee, Jackson seem fairly polished for a guy of his age with an accurate arm and a decent amount of poise for a guy who had just graduated from high school that winter. Jackson showed plenty of promise in the Spring Game last year and gave fans confidence about the future at quarterback with Jackson now stepping up into somewhat of a veteran role as the one guy that isn't new to the offense. Jackson mentioned today that getting to watch Jerod Evans helped him a lot with Jackson getting to see Evans from a quarterback standpoint in running the offense and reading the defense.
"I have progressed well since the summer. I got to watch Jerod (Evans) play and that really helped me out. Being able to see college football and be able to do his reads and be able to take it all in was a really good learning experience for me."
Jackson was also able to learn a lot from the leadership skills of Jerod Evans and his ability to stay confident and keep pushing teammates even when they had a lot of work ahead of them including in the Hokies' impressive comeback win against Arkansas.
"He's (Jerod Evans's) a very confident guy. His confidence never wavered throughout the whole game, he just kept going and kept getting ready for the next play and the next series. That was very cool to watch, he was very persistent and kept working and kept going at them."
Jackson is now the veteran in the quarterback room and recognizes that it is a big advantage, but Jackson also brought up how he also has the advantage of getting to face Bud Foster's defense on a daily basis last fall with Fuente continuing to give Jackson a few first team reps still during the fall even after Jerod Evans earned the job.
"I'd say it's a big advantage but I have to continue to learn. We keep putting in new stuff so I have to continue to learn that. Going against Bud Foster's defense every day is a good challenge and that just gets me better and better."
Jackson is the veteran quarterback for the Hokies and while he may only be a redshirt freshman, he is vested in what is best for the team and helping the Hokies' other quarterbacks develop and learn the playbook with the Hokies having Hendon Hooker follow the footsteps of Jackson himself as an early enrollee this spring looking to win the starting QB job.
"I try to help them out as much as I can because I know if I don't, Coach Corn (Brad Cornelsen) or Coach Fuente will be on them. I try to help the guys out if they don't know a play or a signal, it's not a problem at all."
Josh Jackson continues to maintain the status as the favorite but that has tightened some as Hendon Hooker and AJ Bush have learned the offense with Hooker and Bush both having some very talented raw skills, making some wonder if Jackson will be able to win the job as many expected. However, this is still the same Josh Jackson who surprised many people last spring as he climbed ahead of former VT QB Dwayne Lawson on the depth chart while having a good showing in last year's Spring Game and eventually working his way into the quarterback competition last fall after not being in it the previous spring. While the gap may be tightening for now, Josh Jackson still is the man to beat and after getting to be in Justin Fuente's offense for a year and watch Jerod Evans execute it, he's now become the veteran ready to take over as Virginia Tech's next starting quarterback.

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