Inside HOKIE SPORTS | Vol. 15 No. 1 | August 2022

4 Inside Hokie Sports A new season and a new era of Virginia Tech football begins on Friday, September 2 in Norfolk when the Hokies kickoff their 2022 season against ODU. In fact, you’re going to hear the word ‘new’ a whole lot this fall around the Tech program. New coach. New culture. A renewed commitment to relationships. And a fresh reset on a program that hopes to regain its previous stature. For first year Tech head coach Brent Pry, September 2 is a night that’s been a lifetime in the making. Raised on the sidelines of his dad’s teams—father Jim spent 40 years in coaching—Pry has been an assistant for 31 years under some of the sport’s biggest names. In Norfolk, he’ll lead his own team onto the field for the first time. “Excited. Passionate to get it going. That’s how I’ll feel,” Pry predicted. As for his goals? “When you’re the son of a coach, the expectations you put on yourself to win and to make your dad proud. That’s pretty powerful stuff,” Pry said. “For us, it’s about being sound. And being smart. And having the kids understand what you want,’ Pry said. “We have good schemes, but it’s the fundamentals, it’s the personnel that’s important. Developing our roster is key for us.” While the overall talent isn’t there just yet, Pry feels he’s upgraded the quarterback position in ’22, as Marshall transfers Grant Wells and South Carolina transfer Jason Brown have joined the program. “They are both demonstrating leadership qualities,” Pry said. “Their relationship with (quarterback Coach) Brad Glenn and (offensive coordinator) Tyler Bowen is excellent And we have two really good people. Hard workers with high football IQ.” “They’ve both had success in different ways. Grant’s had good numbers and a lot of snaps. Jason’s won on the biggest stage over some really big folks in some big games.” Wells threw for over 5,500 yards and 34 touchdowns as Marshall’s starting QB the last two seasons. Brown threw for 36 touchdowns at South Carolina over the last three years. The Fredericksburg, Va. native led the Gamecocks to wins over Auburn and Florida last year before entering the transfer portal. “They both bring a lot to the table,” Pry said. Still, if the Hokies offense will have an identity this year, it will be on the ground. “I want us to run the football,” Pry said. “I know as a defensive play caller, it makes a game difficult to call if you can’t stop the run. We went out and hired the best offensive line coach in the country (Joe Rudolph). We’re not gonna be three yards and a cloud of dust, but you have to have a legitimate running attack.” And what will the Hokies look like on defense? “Well … we’re going to look like Penn State,” Pry chuckled. Makes sense. Afterall, Pry was one of the nation’s top defensive coordinators at Penn State where he built some of the nation’s top units before coming to Tech. “One of the things I look at first is this: I want to see guys running by people to get to the football, “Pry said. “No regard for their body.” “A trademark of Bud’s (Foster) defenses when they were at their best, and what I would hope people would say about our Penn State defenses was that they just played so hard. You don’t worry about bangin’ an With fresh intensity, the Brent Pry era begins at Virginia Tech elbow. You’re not feeling your way. You’re going! You’re hell-bent and rolllin’ to the football. The ball declares, you react and you drive. You run by people to get to the ball.” “We have to do that. We have some guys who can do that, but we don’t have enough of them right now.” It’s going to be a work in progress for sure. And ironically, it all begins against one of his closest friends, ODU head coach Ricky Rahne who was QB coach and offensive coordinator at Vanderbilt and Penn State with Pry and James Franklin before getting the head job in Norfolk. “To be honest, it’s going to be pretty neat,” Pry said. “Obviously we want to win the game and win it big. But I want him (Rahne) to be successful.” “I hate it that we schedule them (ODU) so often because I’d like to see us do this thing together, hand-in-hand. Let’s get these kids to stay in-state, pull for each other, have camps together, have clinics together. I’d prefer it to be that way, and when there are opportunities to do that, we will.” Friendship aside, when the Hokies take the field in Norfolk, so much will be new. The staff. The helmets. The uniforms. But the biggest thing Pry predicts is this: a fresh intensity from Virginia Tech. “I don’t like to lose, “ he said. “I’mwilling to really invest to be determined to win. Nothing bothers me more than someone underachieving or not maximizing potential and giving themselves the best chance to win. And you gotta do it every day. “Development. Hard work. Sacrifice. Fundamentals. Technique.” That’s the focus Pry wants to see out of his team and his program. When you take over the family business as Pry is doing, the pride factor is substantial. In a way, he’s been preparing his entire life for this job, at family dinners, team busses, and hundreds of dad’s practices. And now he has his own team. And his own program. BROADCASTING TEAM On a personal note, it’s wonderful to be back in the Virginia Tech broadcast booth. This is such an exciting time in Hokies’ athletics and the start of a new era in football. We’ve revamped our broadcast team as well starting with the 202223 season and I know you’ll love our new Director of Broadcasting Zach Mackey who joined the Hokie family this summer. Zach has excelled as a broadcaster at Montana State, Iowa and with the Big Ten Network and will host Tech Talk Live with Mike Burnop each week, plus handle the play-by-play duties for men’s basketball games. With Zach, Evan Hughes, and Mike, we’ve put together a group of broadcasters and content creators who will do an excellent job telling the amazing stories of Virginia Tech’s athletes and chronical the success of the various teams. Mike and I are really excited to launch Level Seven, a weekly podcasts that will focus on Virginia Tech football. Why Level Seven? Take a listen to find out more, but our radio booth at Lane Stadium is on Level 7. It affords us a unique perspective on all things Virginia Tech football, and it’s true: You can see things from Level 7 that you can’t see anywhere else! Hope you’ll give it a listen to our new show, plus all of our digital offerings on our Virginia Tech podcast network: https://hokiesports. com/podcasts By Bill Roth