Hokies' QBs ‘kind of all have their challenges’

Associated Press • Apr 14, 2019 at 2:11 AM

BLACKSBURG — If Justin Fuente and Virginia Tech made much progress in sorting out their quarterback competition during Saturday’s spring game, no one was letting on.

Ryan Willis threw for three touchdowns, Quincy Patterson threw for one and ran for another, and Hendon Hooker led an 88-yard drive that started from his own 1-yard line.

“We’re still evaluating,” Fuente said. “I really like what Hendon can do and some of the progress that he’s making. I see him out there, standing behind him, and I see him making good decisions. I see Quincy, at times, being able to play faster, and Ryan needs to continue to be more consistent. So they kind of all have their challenges.”

Willis took over as the Hokies’ starter last season when Josh Jackson was injured, and Jackson’s decision to transfer to Maryland left Willis as the lone experienced player at the position. He threw for 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 12 games, but he knows better than to assume the job is his.

“We’ve all got to act like we’re the starter at all times,” he said. “We’re all leaders out there. I can’t announce myself. We’re all trying our best. We’re all improving every day. It means a lot to all of us. They need us to be leaders out there and control what we can control.”

Willis’ touchdowns came on passes of 29 yards to tight end James Mitchell, a 62-yarder to wide receiver Tre Turner and a 3-yarder to wide receiver Phil Patterson.

Quincy Patterson teamed up with wide receiver Damon Hazleton on a 3-yard scoring pass and ran for a 1-yard score.

The competition has been hampered this spring with Patterson and Hooker both slowed by nagging ailments.

“Quincy didn’t miss any practices, but was really hampered with that cut on his finger throwing the ball for, I don’t know how long it was, maybe a week and a half, which really stunk,” Fuente said. “But now he’s back and throwing it and getting more reps. Hendon was a little slowed by an ankle. He missed our scrimmage last week.”


Despite playing with a broken finger that required surgery a couple of weeks ago, the Big Stone Gap native caught several passes and had a carry. 

"He's incredibly smart," Fuente said of Mitchell, a sophomore. "He's a great worker. He comes from a great family. He's very talented. He knows what he needs to work on to continue to become a better player. He's not a finished product by any means, but he can do so many things. He's very valuable.

"There are some guys that have the talent to do a bunch of different things, but they can't handle it all. But James can handle all of it. I'm really anxious to get through this spring, get that finger healed up, have a great summer and enter fall camp and see how many different places we can put him."