Where Virginia Tech quarterbacks stand: Why Grant Wells is the leader after spring

BLACKSBURG, Va. — As Spring Ball wrapped up two months ago, Virginia Tech coaches met frequently to discuss personnel, with the quarterback being one of the main topics of conversation. If a player had his head and shoulders in the lead in the competition, all decision-makers said they would have no problem naming him a starter, even this early in the schedule.

It turned out that they didn’t. But …

“I think everyone knows who that is,” quarterbacks coach Brad Glenn said Monday. “And I think the dressing room knows who it is.”

It doesn’t take much reading between the lines to know that Marshall Grant Wells’ transfer is heading into the summer as the team’s No. 1 quarterback, with South Carolina graduating transfer Jason Brown leading the two – “Until something changes,” Glenn said.

That should come as no surprise to Hokies fans who saw Wells show up in the spring game, going 11-for-21 for 178 yards and two touchdowns in Team Maroon’s 26-10 win. It was a conclusion to a spring that left head coach Brent Pry confident enough in the quarterback’s situation to not have him among his main concerns on this side of the ball, despite the almost turnover. total from last season.

Wells’ spring screening confirmed to Glenn what he saw on the tape of the second red-shirted student from his time at Marshall and earlier, which made him think the quarterback would be a good fit in the new offensive from Tech. Wells also had a certain intangible.

“Sometimes you just know,” Glenn said. “Like, sometimes even when I recruit high school kids, they all have talent. And sometimes I can’t just put my finger on what it is, and I just look at them and I know, ‘Hey, this guy has it. This guy matches my eyes with what I look for in a quarterback. And he had it.

Although Wells’ arm is what most people notice first (5,623 yards, 34 TDs in two years), Glenn said not to sleep on the quarterback’s ability to move. Wells’ lack of rushing stats at Marshall (115 carries, 231 yards, nine TDs) forced Glenn to dig a little deeper. The Thundering Herd ran an Air Raid style offense that didn’t use the quarterback much as a runner, so Glenn returned to the Wells High School strip in Charleston, West Virginia and saw a runner. able.

“A lot of guys who don’t run 4.4s and 4.5s, well, they automatically think they can’t run the football,” Glenn said. “Well, it’s not. I think I’m doing a pretty good job of trying to convince these guys that they’re runners. And it’s not about taking 60. It’s about taking six and moving the chains. So be a smart runner, run with creative eyes, see space.

Wells, who gained 25 yards on carries before counting sacks in the spring game, performed well with Tech’s strength staff in movement tests and drills, giving Glenn the confidence he can be an effective runner in offensive run zone reads or designed QB runs.

“For me, as a play caller, I would always be around nine, 10, 11 points per game (from quarterback),” Glenn said. “And all of those races might not be called races. Some of them are jamming. … And usually somewhere in my mind, if we get 60-70, up, 80 yards from our quarterback game, we’re exactly where we need to be.

Another knock on Wells coming out of Marshall has been his interceptions – 22 over the past two seasons – although Glenn thinks that’s overkill. By making movie cuts of all of these choices, he put about half on Wells and the other half on other circumstances.

“The half was just a tilted ball here, you anticipated it a little too soon, the receiver should have taken his break a step sooner and he didn’t and that caused the pick,” said said Glenn. “But the one thing about Grant that leads to picks with his quarterback style is that he has confidence. He’s a confident guy. He trusts his arm. And his arm is excellent. He’s one of the best passing quarterbacks I’ve ever coached.

Further down the depth chart, Glenn likes what he sees in Brown as the No. 2, citing the general knowledge of the offense he’s picked up over the spring. (And not considering a lousy spring game that had a somewhat lopsided staff at the expense of the white team.)

“The thing about him is you could never count him,” Glenn said. “I’ve said it before, he’s not always the best looking, but he ends up coming out of it with a really good game.”

Redshirt rookie Tahj Bullock and true rookie Devin Farrell are still in contention for the No. 3 quarterback spot, alongside Ben Locklear. Glenn said Bullock’s youth, confidence and accuracy held him back a bit at this stage, but he made progress, especially in the early summer. Farrell has a skill set of evasion and speed “that you can’t train,” Glenn said, although surprisingly, given their size difference, Bullock and Farrell run the board at the same time. 40 yard edge.

If this competition for the No. 3 spot remains tight heading into the fall, Glenn could consider a scenario where they switch weeks in practice as third-team quarterback, who gets reps. limited given time constraints, and the scouting team, where Glenn thinks someone can improve their fundamentals a bit with all the weekly work.

“If it’s close then Devin, this week he’s going to the scout team, Tahj you get all three reps,” Glenn said. “This week flip it and expand them both.”

Connor Blumrick, who finished last year as a starting quarterback but transitioned into a slash-type role and will work mostly tight ends, will continue to get a few shots at quarterback with Glenn from time to time. time, even if in a quick one-on-one session during downtime in training.

Glenn hopes the new training rules that allow coaches to work with players on the pitch for up to two hours a week during the summer will help the development process. He wants his quarterbacks to get their bodies exactly the way they want them physically over the next month and a half before camp, but more importantly, he wants them to throw routes with receivers against the air.

“I never really cared about Skelly or the team,” he said. “I want to develop timing, understanding. Like, the quarterback needs to know the body language of the proficiency guys, as it relates to entering and exiting routes. Because a guy can look different going out one route than the next. … I think the chemistry of the quarterbacks and the rest of the team can really improve over the summer.

Although the Hokies quarterback room is drastically different from last fall, with the top three options (Braxton Burmeister, Blumrick, Knox Kadum) no longer in the mix this season, Glenn sees that as something of a new normal in today’s university. football, with the transfer portal and the removal of the sit-out rule making continuity in the position difficult.

Glenn said it was hard to navigate year after year, but that didn’t change his singular focus.

“I have to go find a good one every year,” he said. “I have to trust that I can go and recruit one and land him, and I have to trust that I can develop him. And I have confidence in both, but I have a ton of confidence that I can go and develop one.

“And I think that comes down to me coaching the places that I’ve coached. There are times in some of these little schools where there aren’t a lot of good students coming through that door, you know. So I think I have a lot of confidence in myself to be able to take somebody and develop them into a really good quarterback.

(Photo: Brian Bishop/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)