Hokies embracing ‘next-man-up’ mentality amid opt-outs, transfers

Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 4:37 PM EST
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Eight days out from the Pinstripe Bowl matchup between Virginia Tech and Maryland, the Hokies’ roster is seemingly ever-changing, with opt-outs and transfers still rolling in. But interim coach J.C. Price said at Tuesday’s press conference he wants to focus on the guys who are still here.

“There’s no asterisks. They’re not gonna put an asterisk by this bowl after it’s done and say Virginia Tech played well and beat Maryland today despite this, or the Hokies lost despite this,” said Price. “That has nothing to do with it, win or loss. We’re going to roll with the guys who want to be here, and we’re prepared, we will be prepared, and the guys who are going to play have been coached all year.”

The latest hit to Tech’s roster came Saturday when quarterback Braxton Burmeister entered the transfer portal.

He won’t play in the bowl game, despite reports that he wanted to, and Price took an emphatic stance on the subject of players opting out.

“Some of my finest memories as a player was playing in the Independence Bowl and the Sugar Bowl,” he said. “We played in the Sugar Bowl my senior year and I was a third-round draft pick, and never in my mind did it ever cross for me to sit out of the game. Things are a little bit different now.

“I think with the emphasis they put on the playoff, it has devalued the bowl system a little bit. I think because there are so many bowls, that devalues the bowl system a little bit. And I understand and I respect their decision, but I don’t agree with it.”

Connor Blumrick will start for the Hokies under center, with true freshman Tahj Bullock ready to potentially take his first college snaps as the backup.

Freshmen Da’wain Lofton and Jaylen Jones will also line up at wide receiver, as the Hokies hope the work put in behind the scenes comes to bear on the big stage.

“Competitive excellence is, you make the play when your number is called, no matter if you’ve had 100 reps in a game or just one,” said Price. “And that’s what [Lofton and Jones] have done, and a lot of young guys are gonna be in that position. You’re gonna see some fresh faces running around out there that haven’t played a lot this year, and we expect them to perform.”

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