Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
Virginia Tech has already landed a few transfers this offseason including Kansas grad transfer RB Khalil Herbert, Youngstown State grad transfer DE Justus Reed, and Rutgers transfer RB Raheem Blackshear. However, the Hokies may not be done on the transfer market just yet as they are showing interest in Rice kicker transfer Zach Hoban.
Hoban told us that the Hokies, Minnesota, and Rutgers have all extended him preferred walk-on offers while UCLA has been showing interest in him as well.
Hoban also has a strong idea of what he's looking for including playing at a Power 5 program even if it may not mean a scholarship at first.
"Coming from Rice, I’m looking to play Power 5 for a devoted and passionate fan base. Also looking for a school with a great academic reputation and strong business program," Hoban said.
That would seem to line up well for the Hokies given the passion of Hokie Nation along with the strong and continually improving Pamplin Business School.
Rutgers also feels like a serious threat for Hoban in large part because of the fact that Hoban is a New Jersey native, something which helps Rutgers especially but also VT relative to the other main schools involved with him currently. Regardless, the fact that Hoban started his collegiate career out at Rice shows that Hoban is unafraid to go to a school far away from home.
Coming out of high school, Hoban was ranked as the #13 kicker in the country by Kohl's Kicking with Rice using him as their kickoff specialist this past season. Over the course of his freshman season, Hoban averaged 59.9 yards per kickoff with 14 touchbacks on 34 kicks.
Virginia Tech sees Hoban as someone who can not only come in and become the kickoff specialist down the road, but also compete for the starting kicker job and scholarship in 2021.
"I’m going to have to sit out 2020, which they said works well since they have all senior specialists. I would have a chance to compete for a scholarship in the spring of 2021," Hoban said.
If Hoban chose the Hokies, there would be an intriguing competition between him and PWO kicker Kyle Lowe who is seen as one of the better kicking specialists in Virginia in the 2020 class.
Looking ahead, Hoban told us that he is looking to make a decision by early May, ruling out the possibility of taking any in-person visits to these schools. That could prove advantageous for schools closer to home that he may be more familiar with like Rutgers and Virginia Tech.
That also will likely put a greater premium on coach-player relationships with Hoban already building a strong relationship with VT special teams coordinator James Shibest as Hoban told us.
"Awesome guy, really down-to-earth guy with a lot of passion for special teams. He knows how to manage specialists, since he has coached two kickers currently in the NFL (Jake Elliott and Joey Slye) and has done a great job overall with special teams wherever he’s been," Hoban said.
Virginia Tech is in the hunt for Zach Hoban as the Hokies look to replenish their specialists corps for 2021 and beyond with Oscar Bradburn, Brian Johnson, and John Parker Romo all entering their senior seasons.