Virginia Tech has added 5 transfers this offseason and though they could add 1 or 2 more given that they do have the scholarship room currently to do so, it's unclear who those other additions may be.
So which transfers will have the greatest impact on the Hokies in the 2022 season? Here's my ranking of VT's 5 transfers based purely on their 2022 impact.
5. WR Stephen Gosnell
Stephen Gosnell coming in at the bottom of the list shouldn't come as a surprise as Gosnell barely played at North Carolina before making the decision to transfer to Virginia Tech joining his younger brother and four-star TE Benji Gosnell who signed with the Hokies this offseason.
Stephen Gosnell is an intriguing prospect for the Hokies at the wide receiver position, but doesn't look like a player who will have much of an immediate impact for the Hokies if any in 2022. Currently, Gosnell appears likely to be no higher than the #6 WR for Tech behind the likely starting trio of Jadan Blue, Kaleb Smith, and Da'Wain Lofton along with Jaylen Jones and Dallan Wright.
Now Gosnell could potentially play a role on special teams in 2022, but his offensive role seems likely to be very small in non-garbage time situations for the 2022 season.
4. QB Jason Brown
Jason Brown being the heavy underdog in Virginia Tech's QB battle especially after the Spring Game and based on comments from QBs coach Brad Glenn recently has Brown at #4 on his list. However, Brown's actual 2022 impact looking back could have him higher on the list by the end of this season.
Brown may not have the upside of Grant Wells, but he also has a higher floor than Wells and if Wells struggles with interceptions as he did at times at Marshall, Tech may make the change to him. He also has quality experience both as a multi-year FCS starter at Saint Francis (PA) and as a starter for multiple Power 5 wins last season at South Carolina.
Brown's impact should go well beyond his on-field play as he's the type of culture guy who grew up wanting to go to Virginia Tech and should help Brent Pry implement the type of culture that he wants to establish. His love for Virginia Tech along with being just a high character person in general could even make him a sleeper to earn a captain spot for the Hokies regardless of whether he's starting at QB for Tech or not.
Jason Brown may not end up making the biggest on-field impact, but the difference he can make off-the-field could prove valuable looking back years down the road.
3. DE Pheldarius Payne
Pheldarius Payne is the lone transfer who didn't arrive in the spring with his commitment coming way later after the commitments and arrivals of the other four transfers. Though he wasn't there in the spring, Payne comes in and is instantly a frontrunner to earn the starting DE job opposite TyJuan Garbutt.
Payne was productive in a rotational role in Nebraska's 3-4 defense as an OLB with 40 tackles including 4.5 for loss with 3 sacks during his two seasons post-JUCO in Lincoln for the 757 native. Payne definitely has the size that you'd want for a DE as well at 6'3'' and 260 pounds while his Power 5 experience also helps.
Now Payne will face plenty of competition from high upside guys like Cole Nelson and CJ McCray along with multi-year backups like Jaylen Griffin and Eli Adams who are looking to finally break through and become starters for the Hokies. Nelson in particular feels like a potential breakout candidate with plenty of hype surrounding his potential since his arrival last year with Nelson breaking into the DE rotation as a freshman behind Garbutt and now Carolina Panthers edge rusher Amare Barno.
Payne may not have as high of a ceiling as Nelson in some regards, but he's also shown the potential to be a quality starting DE at the Power 5 level and will get that chance to prove himself in 2022 before going off to pursue professional endeavors.
If Payne doesn't end up earning the starting job, you may be able to make an argument that Jason Brown will have a larger impact than Payne but for now, I think Payne wins the second starting DE job and becomes a solid starter for Tech.
2. WR Jadan Blue
Coming in at second on this is Jadan Blue who didn't have a great Spring Game, but has massive potential given his performance at Temple in 2019 followed by a decline due to a Temple passing game that became anemic over the final years of the Rod Carey era.
This was definitely the toughest call between Blue and Pheldarius Payne because of the fact that Blue hasn't produced at a high level since 2019 combined with his Spring Game struggles but those factors definitely matter.
However, Blue also averaged at least 5 receptions per game in each of his past 2 games including 41 receptions in only 6 games in 2020 right after his 95-reception, 1067-receiving yard 2019 season.
Those are proven numbers from a guy who likely feels he has something to prove even with the struggles of Temple's QB play over his final two seasons at Temple. Blue also likely knows that a big season will certainly boost him up the radars of NFL scouts and have them believing more than he can be a quality pro receiver who was held back by his QB play.
Grant Wells and Jason Brown also are significant QB upgrades over what Blue had over the final 2 seasons at Temple while he should be in a stronger receiving corps that means a little less attention will be paid his way.
Can Jadan Blue re-find the form that led to him having one of the best Group of 5 seasons in 2019 and thrive again with improved QB play? Odds seem pretty good that he can at least find some of that production level in an offense where he can definitely be the #1 wide receiver in 2022.
1. QB Grant Wells
Coming in at the top is the man set to most likely take over the starting QB spot for the Hokies in Brent Pry's first season, Marshall transfer Grant Wells.
Wells was impressive in the Spring Game including with a pair of long touchdown passes that showed the arm strength and down-the-field accuracy that has been lacking for the Hokies since Hendon Hooker was no longer Tech's regular starter and then transferred to Tennessee.
Tech's offense also worked best in that Spring Game when Wells was in the game for either team. He also was working with what is likely the largely first team offense outside of Jadan Blue and the likely starting guards. While the rosters were somewhat randomized, it's clear that Tech was trying to keep lots of starters paired together with Wells happening to be with way more of the first teamers.
Additionally, though Brown did probably have the weaker hand and faced the tougher defense, Wells looked significantly better overall in this game. Combine those factors and though it was only one of 15 spring data points, it seems pretty clear where things are headed.
The comments also fall in line with what QBs coach Brad Glenn told Andy Bitter of The Athletic as we reference with Jason Brown
Virginia Tech didn't name a starting QB after spring ball, but ...— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) June 14, 2022
"I think everybody knows who it is,” Brad Glenn said
On Grant Wells and the #Hokies' QB outlook:https://t.co/MApyw7SQa8 pic.twitter.com/6QQHaGEfiW
Now the question with Wells is can he avoid the interception issues that plagued his second season with Marshall at times. There's no doubt that Wells is a gun slinger who will take some risks with Tech likely willing to be comfortable with a more aggressive QB, a change from the previous era. But Tech needs Wells to take strides relative to his 2021 performance in that regard and keep growing in other areas while getting his INT issues to be much less of a problem as was the case in 2020.
If so, Wells can be a very solid QB for the Hokies in 2022 even if the WR corps he has is solid, but has no guarantees of the star talent that could really boost the VT offense.