Inside HOKIE SPORTS | Vol. 14 No. 1 | August 2021

16 Inside Hokie Sports QUARTERBACKS PLAYER TO WATCH Braxton Burmeister is the only quarterback on the roster who started for the Hokies in 2020, posting a 3-1 record in those four games. Burmeister’s return sets up a rare situation during the Justin Fuente era where Tech presumably knows its projected 2021 starter heading into the preseason. The Oregon transfer ended last season on a positive note, leading the Hokies to 33-15 victory over Virginia to reclaim the Commonwealth Cup. He threw for a career-high 212 yards in the win, completing 15 of 22 throws with a touchdown. The La Jolla, California native also guided Tech to victories against NC State and Duke a year ago. With two years of experience in Tech’s offense and a larger leadership role inside the locker room, Burmeister will look to continue the momentum from last season’s finale into 2021. OTHERS IN THE MIX Redshirt freshman Knox Kadum is the only other quarterback on the roster who has played in a game for the Hokies, doing so vs. Clemson last season. Kadum didn’t blink when thrown into the fray against the eventual ACC champions. The Rome, Georgia native completed four of his six attempts for 68 yards and also rushed for 24 yards. Connor Blumrick was recommended to Tech’s staff by Fuente’s former offensive coordinator at Memphis and current Texas A&M offensive coordinator, Darrell Dickey. Blumrick was listed as a running back and also made a move to tight end his sophomore season for Jimbo Fisher, in addition to working on special teams. A prolific passer in high school, Blumrick’s experience and versatility should be a plus for Tech’s quarterback room. And of course, Tech’s coaching staff is anxious to see highly-touted Tahj Bullock get on the practice field. QB NOTES • Burmeister went 3-1 as a starter in 2020. • Burmeister completed the Hokies’ longest pass of the 2020 season, a 60-yard touchdown to WR Tayvion Robinson versus Virginia. • The Hokies had their most productive offensive outings in 2020 in the two games Burmeister started, racking up 495 yards in both the season opener vs. NC State and at North Carolina. • Burmeister led Tech to a season-high 8.5 yards per play average vs. NC State. • Burmeister accounted for the most yards of total offense of any returning Tech player after throwing for 687 yards and rushing for 182 in 2020. POSITION OUTLOOK All signs point to Burmeister being the Hokies starter vs. North Carolina on September 3 in Lane Stadium, which will be the second straight season the Hokies turn to the California native to begin the season, just the second time in the Fuente era a quarterback has started back-to-back seasons (Josh Jackson, 2017-18). Burmeister showed flashes of his potential and big play capability last season and a full complement of spring practices working with offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen has been beneficial. Kadum and Blumrick will be the top candidates to compete for the back-up role. RUNNING BACKS PLAYERS TO WATCH Jalen Holston and Raheem Blackshear appear poised to give Tech a solid one-two punch on the ground. After suffering a season-ending injury in the 2019 opener, Holston demonstrated his physical downhill running style with a 14-carry, 58-yard performance vs. Virginia. He finished the season with 40 carries for 189 yards, including a pair of rushing scores vs. Miami. The speedy Blackshear can line up in the backfield or in the slot, making him a difficult match-up for opposing defenses. The Rutgers transfer rushed 68 times for 255 yards with two TDs a year ago and led the RB room with 18 receptions. He produced a trio of 100-yard rushing games during his time at Rutgers and posted a season-high 59 yards last season at Duke. Don’t be surprised if both Holston and Blackshear get ample opportunities to make plays in 2021. OTHERS IN THE MIX Keshawn King could be poised for a bigger role in 2021 after accumulating 79 carries for 340 yards and two TDs as a freshman in 2019. Much like Blackshear, he possesses good hands and caught nine passes for 154 yards as a freshman. Marco Lee was a top 10 finisher in Tech’s strength and conditioning program, while Jordan Brunson, Tahj Gary and Jalen Hampton also earned Hard Hats this spring. All of those players need to make the most out of every rep during preseason camp with an abundance of talented performers in Tech’s running back corps. RB NOTES • Virginia Tech ranked sixth in the nation with 2,641 rushing yards last season, but will need to replace the production of Khalil Herbert, who ran for 1,182 yards in 2020. • The Hokies outrushed their opponents in eight of 11 games last season, including a 260-yard disparity vs. Boston College. • Tech produced six games with 250+ rushing yards and owns a 12-2 record under Fuente in such contests. POSITION BY POSITION PREVIEWS football BRAXTON BURMEISTER