Brian Johnson

Virginia Tech place-kicker Brian Johnson is competing to replace former starter Joey Slye.

BLACKSBURG - Replacing Joey Slye won’t be an easy task this fall.

The walk-on turned scholarship kicker ended his career as a Lou Groza semi-finalist. He was 15 of 22 on field goals with the second highest touchback percentage in the country (84 percent) his senior year.

Slye, who scored in a record 42 straight games, also holds program records for most career field goals and career scoring.

Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente isn’t in a hurry to name a replacement as he lets the competition between Brian Johnson and Jordan Stout extend through the end of fall camp.

“I wouldn’t go so far as to say we’re ready to just establish a pecking order,” Fuente said. “We’ve kicked quite a bit. We’ll continue to kick for the next week or so, whether in front of the team or in team situations to continue to try and evaluate those guys.”

Johnson, a third-year sophomore, appeared in five games last season going 3 of 4 on field goals and making all five of his extra-point attempts. Stout is a redshirt freshman out of

Honaker High School in Virginia.

“I like both of those youngsters, Brian and Jordan,” Fuente said. “I think they’re both talented. Brian got to play a little bit last year when Joey was kind of suffering from leg fatigue, I guess, if you will. And we’ll continue to kind of evaluate that and go back and forth.”

Fuente saved specific praise for the offseason conditioning work Johnson put in.

“Brian’s continued to get stronger in the weight room,” Fuente said. “I think you can tell with the ball coming off his foot, that he’s put some hard work in, had a really good offseason.”

Fuente didn’t rule out experimenting with rotating the specialists on kickoffs based on the situation, but the coaching staff isn’t leaning in that direction just yet.

“I know in my times as an assistant, we’ve had two before,” Fuente said. “I think at Memphis, we had Jake [Elliott] who was pretty good, could handle both of them. I don’t know that in my time as a head coach off the top of my head that I’ve had a long and short guy, so to speak. We’ll just kind of figure it out and see how it goes. I know certainly it’s happened before and it could certainly happen again.”

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

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