Virginia Tech celebrates 2019 fan day

Virginia Tech quarterback Ryan Willis signs autographs on Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019 at the team’s 2019 fan day.

BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuene wasn’t ready to name a starting quarterback with 16 days until the season-opener at Boston College.

At his press conference on Thursday, Fuente was again tight-lipped about the competition, but acknowledged that Ryan Willis and Hendon Hooker have taken most of the first team reps in recent days.

“We’ll continue to evaluate that and see how it goes,” Fuente said. “I will say this. I’ve been really imposed by Hendon and the work he put in this summer. He continues to improve. Ryan’s had a good camp as well. We’ll continue to look at it and get through the last scrimmage and see where we’re at.”

Tech’s quarterback competition started in the spring with Willis, Hooker and Quincy Patterson. True freshman Knox Kadum and Oregon transfer Braxton Burmeister joined the team over the summer, but were longshots to win the job. Burmeister’s NCAA waiver application for immediate eligibility was denied last week.

Willis has no issues with Tech coaches taking their time making a decision.

“I don’t think we need to worry about that,” Willis said. "I think we need to worry about getting better every day so we can help this team win ball games. This upcoming fall season is 16 days away and we need to prepare every day. We got less fall practices this year than ever and have to make the most of each one.”

The former Kansas quarterback went 4-6 as Tech’s starter last season. He threw for 2,716 yards (58.5%) with 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions after stepping in for an injured Josh Jackson in Week 3.

Hooker, who was elevated to No. 2 on the depth chart after Jackson’s injury, didn’t see much action last season (he only record stats in three of the six games he played in). Hooker briefly entered the transfer portal before the start of spring camp, but had a change of heart and hasn’t looked back.

The redshirt sophomore went into the offseason looking to improve his overall consistency.

“Every year I approach the offseason with the same mindset of just getting better overall and fine-tuning things on my technique,” Hooker said on Thursday.

That approach has paid off with coaches going back to spring practice.

“I feel like he’s getting better,” Fuente said after the spring game. “I’ve seen him flip protections. I saw a couple of times today specifically, he kept his eyes down the field and moved in the pocket a little bit. I think he had a long throw to the field I was encouraged by. Those are plays that aren’t easy to make. I’ve been pleased with him continuing to understand he’s got to keep his focus — it sounds so simple — on his fundamentals on a consistent basis while he’s trying to execute what we are trying to do.”

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

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