BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech’s early bye week will allow a number of players to get healthy.

Coach Justin Fuente rattled off a series of players he hopes will be healthy enough to play when the Hokies take the field against Duke on Sept. 27. That list includes right guard T.J. Jackson, center Zachariah Hoyt, defensive back Nadir Thompson and defensive end TyJuan Garbutt.

Garbutt has only played a single defensive series this season.

“Hopefully we can get those guys closer to being healthy again,” Fuente said.

A name noticeable absent from the list is starting receiver Damon Hazelton, who has missed all three games this season with an injured hamstring.

“I really don’t know,” Fuente said. “We’ll see.”

Fuente was optimistic about Hazelton’s status ahead of Tech’s game before Old Dominion before the receiver suffered a setback in practice. Tech’s coach stressed that he didn't want to offer another inaccurate timeline for Hazelton’s return.

“We’re trying to progress him back out there,” Fuente said. “I thought I knew three weeks ago and I feel a little optimistic for being as foolish as I was. Not because Damon disappointed me, but because I felt strongly that everything was fine, and it obviously wasn’t. I really don’t know.”

Fuente might know a little more when he meets with the media again on Sept. 23.

“We’ll see as we go through this week,” Fuente said. “Hopefully by the end of practice on Thursday, maybe I’ll have a guess as to how far along he is.”

Hazleton led Virginia Tech in all the major receiving categories with 51 catches for 802 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He also dealt with hamstring issues at the regular season in 2018. 

The Hokies have spread the ball around in Hazelton’s absence with four receivers all topping the 100-yard mark through three games.

Mike Niziolek is the Virginia Tech football beat writer for The Roanoke Times. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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