Tech ranks No. 22 USA Today Amway Coaches Poll, more camp updates

BLACKSBURG – Head coach Justin Fuente and five student-athletes spoke with members of the media on Thursday for the first media briefing since the start of camp. They touched upon a myriad of topics. Here’s what you need to know:


· Good News – The first USA Today Amway Coaches Poll of the season was released and the Hokies checked in at No. 22. The last time Tech was ranked to begin a season was 2012 when they were ranked at No. 16. The Hokies’ Week One opponent, West Virginia, sits at No. 20. Tech joined four other ACC schools in the Top 25 – Florida State (3), Clemson (5), Louisville (17) and Miami (18).

· Bad News – Fuente confirmed that freshman WR Caleb Farley suffered a season-ending right knee injury in Tuesday’s practice that will likely end his season. The Hickory, North Carolina native will be revaluated by the Virginia Tech Athletics medical staff in the near future. Farley moved to receiver in the spring after putting together a record-setting career as a quarterback at Maiden High School.


The head coach was asked about Virginia Tech’s recent announcement of a home-and-home series with BYU in 2026 and 2030 and multiple future matchups with in-state opponents Liberty, Old Dominion and VMI.

Overall, the second-year head coach liked addition of a brand-name program like BYU, as well as continuing the regional flavor of recent schedules.

“I’m excited we’re continuing to play in the region,” Fuente said. “I like our model, if you will, and – I don’t mean any disrespect to anyone we’re playing – trying to find a marquee game. I like that. I think we should accept that challenge, and with some of the other local games, we’re trying to keep it regionalized as best we can. Obviously we’re scheduled out for some time, but I like the model of trying to stay local and then playing a marquee non-conference game.”


Redshirt sophomore running back DeShawn McClease is back on the field and healthy after appearing in only one game last season before suffering a shoulder injury.

“I feel 100 percent,” McClease said. “It feels good to be back out here, of course, grinding with my teammates. I haven’t had a little popping in a while, so I’m definitely looking forward to that.”

Fuente praised McClease for his abilities running north and south, despite his 5-foot-9, 190-pound stature. In a position group that lacked consistency last season, McClease is looking to have a breakout season.

“I feel like I’m an all-around back. I feel like I can do whatever the coaches ask of me,” McClease said


With the departure of multiple senior leaders at the end of last season, the Hokies had to search for some new faces to fill those roles.

Redshirt senior guard Wyatt Teller, a preseason All-ACC selection and considered by many to be one of the top NFL prospects on the team, decided to step up and become more of a team leader entering his final season in Blacksburg. With 32 career starts, the third-most on the team, Teller was an obvious candidate.

“I feel like a leadership role had to be taken, so I put the shoes on and started walking with them, and it felt good,” Teller said. “We’re all leaders, which is nice. Every single one of the offensive linemen is a leader – in their group, in the weight room, everything. It’s nice to have that chemistry with the guys and have the same leadership mindset.”

When asked about the most important thing about being a leader that he learned, the neophyte in leadership had a simple answer.

“Not mess up. You can’t mess up a lot,” Teller said. “But it’s important being yourself. If you’re not a vocal leader, you’re not a vocal leader. If you’re a lead-by-example guy, then that’s how you’ve got to lead. That’s what I’ve learned.”


· The Hokies have seven players on the current roster who have earned their undergraduate degrees and are continuing their studies at Virginia Tech: Kyle Chung, Brandon Facyson, Sean Huelskamp, Parker Osterloh, Colt Pettit, Anthony Shegog and Colton Taylor.

Two Hokies will square off Thursday night in the first NFL preseason game of the season, as Woody Baron and the Dallas Cowboys will take on head coach Bruce Arians and the Arizona Cardinals in Canton, Ohio at 8 p.m. on NBC. Baron was a 2016 first-team All-ACC selection before signing with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent while Arians, who lettered for the Hokies at quarterback from 1972-74, is entering his 25th season as an NFL coach and his fifth as head coach of the Cardinals. Tackle Jon McLaughlin is currently on the Arizona roster, meaning the potential of him squaring off in the trenches against Baron in their first NFL game is a distinct possibility.

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