My countdown of the top 25 Virginia Tech transfers during the transfer portal era continues today with a look at 20-16 loaded with talent from multiple sports. Check out the next 5 spots along with my previous stories on 25-21 plus the top 5 recent pre-transfer portal era transfers for the Hokies.
20. TJ Rumfield
Gavin Cross was the biggest star for a Virginia Tech Baseball team that seemed poised to breakthrough in 2021 to return to the NCAA Tournament before things went awry late in the season. However, Cross had quality hitters around him that year as well including first baseman/designated hitter TJ Rumfield who had transferred in from Texas Tech.
In his lone season in Blacksburg, Rumfield shared the lead with 37 RBIs along with a team high 26 walks while also hitting 7 home runs and 12 doubles plus a .315 batting average and .880 OPS. Rumfield was among the top 2 for the Hokies in home runs, RBIs, batting average, hits, doubles, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, and walks.
Rumfield was a complete center of the order hitter for the Hokies who laid the groundwork for Gavin Cross and company to take that to the next level and then some in 2022 with Rumfield likely watching on from the minors after being drafted in the 2021 MLB Draft.
19. Kyle McDowell
Soccer is truly a global game and for Virginia Tech Men's Soccer, that included looking for transfers from Canadian colleges like Kyle McDowell who could become plug and play starters for the Hokies with McDowell being just that.
The Englishmen by way of a Canadian college may have primarily been a defender, but he played a big role in Tech's attack as well with a team high 5 assists while starting 15 matches during the 2020-21 season. He followed that up this past fall by leading Tech again with 8 assists which was also second in the ACC while also starting 19 games.
Additionally, McDowell's finest play came in some big moments especially this past season with goals in the ACC Tournament against Pittsburgh and in the NCAA Tournament against Campbell.
McDowell was a quality defender for the Hokies who contributed in many ways and showed that finding quality transfers doesn't mean just looking at NCAA schools even in the transfer portal era.
18. Lydia Rivers
Lydia Rivers didn't put up big numbers during her lone 2019-20 season at Virginia Tech, but the Radford transfer was a quality starter on a Hokie WBB team that was well on their way to making the NCAA Tournament for the first time under Kenny Brooks before COVID got in the way of things.
Rivers played in 30 games starting in 23 during her one season in Blacksburg while being a rebounding machine in the post averaging 8.1 boards per game including almost 3 offensive rebounds per game. She also averaged 6.4 points, 1.8 assists, and over 1 block in over 26 minutes per game while shooting 47.3% from the field.
Rivers wasn't a star for the Hokies, but she played her role as a productive frontcourt player who was dominant especially on the glass. COVID took away her chance to get to represent Virginia Tech in a NCAA Tournament along with the other outgoing Hokie standouts on that team, but that team was when Tech made the jump from WNIT to major ACC player and NCAA Tournament with Rivers deserving some credit.
17. Justus Reed
There will be plenty of football players in these top 25 rankings with former starting defensive end Justus Reed coming in at #17 being a valuable veteran presence while proving that he could be productive at the Power 5 level after starring at Youngstown State.
Reed had 28 tackles including 9 for loss with 6.5 sacks over the course of his 10-game season for the Hokies. He was the focus at defensive end and drew lots of attention which meant less attention for Amare Barno who became a star for the Hokies on his way to becoming an NFL Draft pick in the 2022 edition.
Reed wasn't necessarily the star pass rusher that some may have expected when he transferred to Tech, but he proved to be a quality defensive end for the Hokies who provided a major boost at a position of need while forming a strong duo at DE with Amare Barno.
16. Kiernan Higgins
The road for Kiernan Higgins was the definition of a winding one from Coastal Carolina to Shippensburg to one final year at Virginia Tech with Higgins emerging as a key reliever for the Hokies who stepped up as Tech's top late inning guy down the stretch of the season.
Higgins was the best reliever for the Hokies during his lone season in Blacksburg this past year with only a 1.99 ERA which was the best among Tech pitchers while going 3-0 with 5 saves plus 38 strikeouts in 31.2 innings over the course of his 21 appearances. He was almost unhittable at many times with opponents only batting .202 against him.
Higgins was a big time, late-inning pitcher for the Hokies who stepped up down the stretch and in big games with an ERA under 3.5 against top 25 competition, all 5 of his saves coming after March, and a sub-2 ERA during May and June when the stage was biggest. Though his role may not be the biggest, Higgins proved himself quite well and hopefully will get a pro shot given the pro bullpen potential he's shown in Blacksburg.