Virginia Tech Hires Justin Fuente as Head Coach

justinfuenteVirginia Tech announced the hiring of former Memphis head coach Justin Fuente on Sunday.

Fuente, 39, is set to replace Frank Beamer at the end of the season.

Beamer will finish his 29 consecutive season with the Hokies, the longest active streak in college football, with a 23 straight bowl game appearance, also the longest active streak in college football.  Fuente has big shoes to fill as he is replacing one of the last coaches that value loyalty, integrity and class the way that Beamer has exemplified.

Virginia Tech will turn the page on a historic chapter when they finish their bowl game.  It has not been determined where the Hokies will play.  It will be the last of Beamer’s storied career. justinfuente

Fuente will bring a fresh take to a program that has struggled to adapt to the current wave of offenses.  With college football turning to an up-tempo style offense, the Hokies have a coach who is part of the change in offensive mindsets.  Fuente coached NFL Pro Bowler Andy Dalton while at TCU and has developed Quarterback Paxton Lynch into a first-round talent at Memphis.

Dalton’s success at TCU can be attributed to Fuente’s role with the offense.  In 2009, Fuente was promoted to Co-Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach.  In Dalton’s 2008 season, he had a 59.3 completion percentage and threw 11 touchdowns to five interceptions.

Under Fuente in 2009, Dalton completed 61.6 percent of passes and threw for 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions.  Dalton’s senior season in 2010 proved that a second year under Fuente’s guide was even more beneficial.  Dalton completed 66.1 percent of passes and threw 27 touchdowns and six interceptions.  The improvement under Fuente helped Dalton improve to the NFL talent that he is for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Lynch had similar improvements from year-to-year.  He began his career with Fuente as his head coach.  During his freshman year, Lynch completed 58.2 percent of his passes.  His completion percentage improved in his sophomore year to 62.7 percent, and again in his junior year to 69 percent.  Lynch’s freshman season was a struggle throwing for nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions.  He bounced back in a big way in his sophomore season with 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions.  His junior season has been remarkable with 28 touchdowns and three interceptions.  Lynch has seen his NFL draft stock rise thanks to Fuente’s coaching and large improvements. frankbeamer2

The future looks bright for the Hokies with Fuente coming to Blacksburg.  Starting quarterback Michael Brewer will play his final game in the bowl game and will graduate as a senior.  That will leave Fuente with an opportunity to select his quarterback to work with and develop.

Freshman Dwayne Lawson was recruited as a four-star recruit, according to 247.  He has played in four games with a special package during the 2015 season.  Lawson is 3-9 passing for 51 yards.  He has good size at six-feet, six-inches and could develop nicely in Fuente’s offensive system.

Junior Brenden Motley has the most college experience, but may be least likely to start under Fuente.  Motley is more of a running quarterback and didn’t play well in relief of Brewer when Brewer went out with a collarbone injury.  Motley has played in 10 games in 2015 and has completed 56.1 percent of passes.  He is averaging seven yards per pass attempt.  Motley has potential to improve, but Fuente may want to go with a younger quarterback that he has more time to work with.

Josh Jackson is a 2016 Quarterback commitment for the Hokies.  Jackson (Saline High School, MI) plans to enroll in January and get an early start to his college career.  He is a three-star recruit and ranked 481 nationally by 247.  Jackson was named the Ann Arbor News Player of the Year in 2015.  He led Saline to the state championship game in 2014 and had high expectations for the 2015 season.  Jackson is a dual-threat quarterback that threw for 1,780 yards and 21 touchdowns during his senior year.  He also ran for 470 yards and eight touchdowns.

There is a lot to look forward to with the quarterback situation and a coach that has proven himself as a great quarterback coach.  Fuente will have plenty of options going forward, but a plan for starting quarterback may not be at the top of his offseason list.

Fuente previously took over a Memphis program that was 5-31 in the three seasons prior to his arrival.  He led them to a 26-23 record in four seasons, including 19 wins in his last two years.  Fuente adds an American Athletic Conference Championship and building Memphis into a contender for top 25 rankings.  He built the Memphis program with no foundation before him, which made him a hot coaching candidate.  Virginia Tech has landed a good coach for the future of their storied program.

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