CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WDBJ7) After a slow start, the Belk Bowl ended up being a huge success for Virginia Tech, and the Hokies 35-24 win over Arkansas last night should give the program plenty of momentum heading into the new year.
It's only year No. 1 of the Justin Fuente era in Blacksburg and by all accounts, it was a rousing success. The Hokies won the Coastal Division, reached 10 victories for the first time in five years and have now won three consecutive bowl games for the first time in school history.
"I think it means the world. In Coach Fu's first year, we started off with draw the line. Enough is enough with kind of being average and we just wanted to make a statement to the whole world and get back to that ten win level that Virginia Tech is known for," Belk Bowl MVP Cam Phillips said.
"To have the transition, for me to be a part of Coach Beamer's legacy, being able to carry over and Fu being so respectful and having me involved still, it's been a great ride. It all goes back though to our kids. They bought into everything that he brought. He respected the tradition but needed to put his own twist on it and we need to get it going again," Virginia Tech Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster said.
"I'm not surprised that these kids won games. I didn't now how many it was gonna be. I didn't know which games we'd win and which games we wouldn't win. I didn't know how all that was gonna go but I'm not surprised after getting to know the guys in our locker room, that they had success. I'm not saying we've arrived or that we're back. I'm not saying any of those things, but for this season and that group, they worked towards getting Virginia Tech back some of the recognition and the way that Virginia Tech has been thought of," Fuente said.
The Hokies are sure to move up in the final rankings. They'll now say goodbye to nine seniors and await NFL Draft decisions from wide receiver Isaiah Ford. Wide Receiver Bucky Hodges has signed with an agent and will enter the NFL Draft. But a solid nucleus returns next season when expectations are sure to get ramped up just a bit.