Inside HOKIE SPORTS | Vol. 12 No. 1 | August 2019

20 Inside Hokie Sports 2019 QUARTERBACKS DEPTH CHART (in numerical order) 2 Hendon Hooker (6-4, 228, r-So.) 3 Braxton Burmeister (6-1, 210, r-So.) 4 Quincy Patterson II (6-4, 245, r-Fr.) 5 Ryan Willis (6-4, 220, r-Sr.) 12 Knox Kadum (6-3, 185, Fr.) PLAYER TO WATCH Ryan Willis stepped into the quarterback role during the Hokies’ third game last season—a loss at Old Dominion—after Josh Jackson went down with a season-ending broken leg injury. Willis started the final 10 games of last fall, and he played well overall, finishing the 2018 campaign with 2,716 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. His 24 touchdown passes were tied for the second-most ever by a Tech quarterback in a single season. Willis ranked in the top five in the ACC in virtually every passing category. His 226.3 yards passing per game placed him third in the league, while he finished fourth in both passer rating (138.0) and touchdown passes. The experienced gained last year could propel him to a big 2019 season. OTHERS IN THE MIX Highly touted when he signed with Tech, Quincy Patterson II played in three games during his debut season in 2018 and preserved his redshirt season. Patterson played against Pittsburgh, Boston College and North Carolina, and the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder rushed for 25 yards on nine carries. He completed one pass for nine yards. Hendon Hooker played in six games in 2018, and he rushed four times for 57 yards. He did not attempt a pass. Also, Braxton Burmeister transferred from Oregon to Tech earlier this summer. He played two seasons at Oregon, starting five games as a freshman in 2017 and overall throwing for 330 yards, with two touchdowns and six interceptions. As a sophomore last year, he played in four games, attempting just 10 passes. In two seasons, he rushed 71 times for 131 yards and three touchdowns. As of this magazine’s deadline, it was unclear as to whether Burmeister would be eligible to compete this season or need to sit out the 2019 season. In the event of the latter, he still retains two seasons of eligibility. QUARTERBACKS by Jimmy Robertson INTERESTING FACTS • Willis threw for at least 200 yards in nine of his 10 starts in 2018, including 300-yard performances against Duke (332), Marshall (312) and Notre Dame (309). • Willis threw for at least two touchdown passes in eight of his 10 starts, including a four-touchdown performance in the Hokies’ 41-20 win over Marshall that secured bowl eligibility. • Willis needs just one 300-yard passing game to tie Logan Thomas’ career record for 300-yard passing games (four from 2011-13). • Willis threw for at least 300 yards in his first two career starts (Duke and Notre Dame), becoming the first Tech quarterback ever to do that. • Hooker’s 69-yard touchdown run against William & Mary came on his first collegiate carry. 2019 OUTLOOK Head coach Justin Fuente kept the starting quarterback job open coming out of spring practice, as per most head coaches custom. He wanted all the contenders to spend the offseason preparing to be the starter, urging them to continue working hard in the weight room, in film study and in offseason passing drills. Still, it would be hard to imagine Willis not securing the starting nod after the way he played in Jackson’s absence last fall and the way he performed this spring (he threw three touchdown passes in the Spring Game). Had Willis started all 13 games last season and kept his average (226.3 ypg), he would have finished with 2,942 yards—easily a school record. As it was, he ranked fifth in the ACC in passing yards a year ago with 2,716 yards. The battle for the No. 2 job arguably carries more intrigue. Hooker played well toward the end of spring practice and in the Spring Game, and yet Patterson possesses so much upside and Burmeister has some experience. Who takes the mantle in the event of a Willis injury? The best scenario for Tech: keepWillis healthy and let the youngsters behind him gradually earn more experience. BOLD PREDICTION With three of last year’s top five conference quarterbacks in passing yards departing, Willis leads the ACC in passing yards in 2019. RYAN WILLIS