Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
Khalil Herbert is one of the many college football players that are dealing with changes of transferring schools and playing football during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Herbert is anxious awaiting his first chance to take the field for the Hokies with a major role in Tech's offense.
“I’m looking forward to the chance [to play] again,” said Khalil Herbert. “Anything can happen and things get taken away. We are kind of anxious, so we are trying to do our best to make sure that we get the chance to play.”
The redshirt senior comes to Blacksburg after a four year career at the University of Kansas where he rushed for 1735 yards and 14 touchdowns on 320 attempts.
He comes to Blacksburg with a huge opportunity to get first-team reps after being behind two-time Big 12 First Team RB Pooka Williams Jr. who is looking to break 1,000 rushing yards for the third-straight season at Kansas.
For Herbert though, he benefited from arriving in January and being able to spend some time both around the team and the coaches in person, building up a greater level of comfort in his new environment.
“I think just coming in and getting some workouts in the two months before all of the quarantine, getting to learn the guy’s names and learning the offense before spring ball was kind of getting a taste of what’s to come,” said Herbert. “I think it helped out a lot when I came back because I was kind of in a rhythm and knew what to be in and what to do.”
Despite Herbert’s early arrival and getting eight months to be ready for the season, COVID-19 has put much of his time with the Hokies at risk as the season is still at much uncertainty.
“It’s a lot of uncertainty,” Herbert said. “So we are trying to control what we can control right now, that is kind of the message that Coach Fuente has been telling us.”
Another level of uncertainty that lays over for Virginia Tech this upcoming season is the running back situation and who will be receiving a majority of the carries.
Jalen Holston is the only returning running back for the Hokies who has a significant chance of making an impact in the running department. Even with the added competition, Holston has been a solid leader as the longest-tenured RB in Blacksburg, helping both Herbert and fellow transfer Raheem Blackshear acclimate to Virginia Tech.
“[He] definitely helped,” Herbert said. “ Just being there especially with plays and learning where we have to get to be this time together, he’s done a great job at taking on this leadership role.”
Holston has even gone out and praised Herbert for his style of game in the backfield.
“His patience and ability to make cuts off the blocks before they even happen," Holston said. “His vision, fast blocking on the safety, those guys help encourage you to get better every day.”
The good news for Herbert is that he is not alone during this weird time as a transfer. The aforementioned Rutgers transfer Raheem Blackshear and Herbert have had a common, strange beginning at Virginia Tech, but have appreciated each other through the challenging times and the bond that has created.
“We share some stories,” Herbert said. “Different things have happened after we both went here so it’s kind of funny to see how everything turns out.”
Even though the season has been in all sorts of disarray, the one thing that the Hokies can count on is the impact that Khalil Herbert will make in the 2020 season. Beyond that, Herbert also has his goals set for helping Tech get the Commonwealth Cup back and book a trip to the ACC Championship for the second time under Justin Fuente.
“It’s my first year here so I want to play a role anywhere I can and get the cup back and go on from there,” Herbert said. “We want to get to the ACC Championship and we want to go to a bowl game.”