MG VT Spring Game 041319

Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente observes the action during Saturday’s spring game in Blacksburg.

BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente can get tunnel vision.

After he turned down Baylor’s overtures in becoming its next head coach, Fuente went right back to work at the Jamerson Center. He shared a quick tweet that morning with a picture of Tech’s newly assembled coaching staff that said, “2020, let’s go.”

After nearly three weeks of silence, he addressed the Baylor interview for the first time on national signing day. 

“I’m really excited about what we have and what we’ve built,” Fuente said. “Through this transition, it’s been something to behold, quite honestly. I’m more excited than ever. We have done everything possible to pay respects to the people who have done such a wonderful job with this football program in the past but you look around and see what we’re building, not just bricks and mortar, but as a program and staff-wise, I couldn’t be more excited.”

He reiterated much of what Tech athletic director Whit Babcock said when he was left to speak about the whirlwind 72 hours that had Hokies fans fearing their coach was on his way out the door.

Babcock, who admitted he wasn’t sure what way it would go after a sit down with Fuente after Baylor representatives headed back to Waco, wanted to set the record straight in the midst of wild speculation about Fuente's interview. One outlet erroneously reported that Fuente and his wife travelled down to Baylor's campus for the interview. 

But some fans didn’t appreciate the prolonged silence from their head coach in the wake of Baylor’s serious approach. Fuente, who has spent much of that time on the road recruiting, addressed his relationship with the fanbase on Wednesday afternoon. 

“I get it 100%,” Fuente said. “I can tell them no one is more invested in this program than I am though, but I understand it. I want them to be passionate about what we are doing. They need to trust me that I am too. I’m so passionate about what we are doing and where we are going that I’m never going to stop pushing this football program forward. That’s what we all want.”

Fuente knows he won’t win back everyone immediately, but believes his commitment to Tech (and that tunnel vision) will accomplish more than any tweet or message.

“I can tell you I understand that,” Fuente said of fans that are upset with him. “I get it. I empathize with that part of it. I really, really do. I can tell you this we take this job and the development of our young people really personal too. There are passionate fans here and that’s what makes this place great. We got a bunch of passionate coaches too that are going to make this thing great. We are never going to stop pushing the program forward. That’s what we have to do in order to make it the program everyone wants to be.”

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

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