Inside HOKIE SPORTS | Vol. 14 No. 4 | February 2022 9 99 Bradley Drive Christiansburg NRV Mall 540-381-8100 Full Service Restaurant Bar & Grill Game Day Catering. Dine in or Room Service Welcome Back HOKIES! On whether he enjoyed the assistant coach hiring process “It was a blast. I love to tell the story about hiring [Sam linebackers/ Nickels coach] Shawn Quinn. Shawn and I have been together in two different places. He’s one of the hardest workers I know, he’s one of the brightest coaches I know, he’s been one of the most loyal friends to me in this profession. He had just never gotten a break that a lot of us look for and are fortunate to have had. So when I called Shawn to tell him that this had worked out and I was going to be the new head coach at Virginia Tech and that he was the first phone call I was making. I got as much enjoyment out of that as the phone call to get the job. It’s an awesome deal to be able to align a group of men and women with people that are like-minded, that value the same things that I do. That’s why it was important to take my time. There was a lot of hirable people out there that would do great things here, friends that I’ve been friends with for years, that didn’t make sense for Virginia Tech. Those were the hard phone calls. I just wasn’t going to hire somebody because I knew them and they were a good coach. It had to make sense for Virginia Tech. I think I was able to do that with each one of these hires.” On how he’s navigated the transfer portal so far “I think we’ve done pretty well. I’m very pleased right now where we’re at with the portal. The guys that will be enrolling this spring. We got four guys right now and we’ve got one or two other possibilities that are still in the works. I feel like we addressed some needs but also we weren’t going to make a hasty decision. There’s going to be more opportunity down the road following spring ball, there’s going to be another wave of this. It gives us a chance to identify our needs a little better going through a winter program, going through spring ball. Okay, what do we really need? Where are we at? Where’s the development at this position? I feel good about it.” On the importance of recruiting the transfer portal “It’s going to be as important as anything else we do in recruitment. I think, in my mind right now, I’m looking at the portal recruitment parallel with high school recruitment. It’s going to be just as important in what we do. There’s going to be as much attention and devotion and resources to it from our recruiting department as there would be for high school recruitment. That’s not to take away from the high school recruitment, we’re going to go sign a really good class of developmental guys each and every year. But we also have to address immediate needs, whether it’s just a need that’s identified or it’s a need because somebody has left the program. Obviously, right now we’re still working through all those rules and calendars with the NCAA on what that looks like. We have somebody leave after spring ball, when are you able to replace that? How can you fix that? That was a real pressing meeting, my first head coach meeting in person in San Antonio was three hours of a lot of portal discussion, NIL discussion and recruiting calendar, signing dates, trying to figure out what this is going to look like in the ever-changing climate of college football.” On the importance of the strength coaching staff in setting the tone for the program “It’s vital. That’s why [Director of Strength and Conditioning Dwight Galt IV] was the very first guy that I reached out to because he’s a culture driver. He’s just as like-minded as anybody I’ve hired. I workedwith Deege, I worked with his father for 12 years. So he gets me, he knows what my vision is for Virginia Tech football. He’s off and running with that already. He’s hired like-minded people that are going to get it and be able to be a great resource for our players, not just in the strength and conditioning aspect but as mentors, helping us get the culture that we want in that locker room, on the practice field and, ultimately, on Saturdays.” On what takes place in the weight room to lay the foundation of the program “That’s an area where there’s a lot of adversity. There’s tough times, there’s competitive times when you really start to know a young man as far as what he’s made up of. Is he a competitor? Is he mentally Continued on page 10