Virginia Tech-xodus: Hokies football program sees wave of transfers

Posted at 7:50 PM, Jan 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-23 23:57:40-05

Josh Jackson of the Virginia Tech Hokies. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)

BLACKSBURG, Va. - Four of Virginia Tech's top offensive weapons will provide ammunition to another program in the future.

Wednesday, quarterback Josh Jackson and running back Deshawn McClease announced their intentions to transfer away from the Hokies program. This comes one day after both wide receiver Eric Kumah (seven touchdown receptions in 2018) and tight end Chris Cunningham (two touchdown receptions in 2018) announced their decisions to transfer away from Virginia Tech.

In 2017, Jackson started all 13 games for the Hokies - passing for 2,991 yards and 20 touchdowns. Those marks not only led all Power Five freshman QBs, but they also set Virginia Tech freshman records. In 2018, Jackson suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Tech's loss at Old Dominion. He finished with 575 yards passing and five touchdowns in three games.

Deshawn McClease of the Virginia Tech Hokies. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

On Twitter, Jackson, a redshirt sophomore last season, says he will earn a degree from Virginia Tech. As a graduate transfer, Jackson will be eligible to play immediately at his new school.

McClease, a Chesapeake product (Oscar Smith H.S.), scored two rushing touchdowns in 2018 (11 games, two starts) while rushing for 433 yards. He also caught eight passes for 95 yards and returned seven kicks for 152 yards. In 2017, he played in 12 games (one start) and gained 530 yards rushing with three touchdowns.

Like Jackson, McClease says he will earn a degree from Virginia Tech this spring.

Head coach Justin Fuente of the Virginia Tech Hokies. (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)

Prior to the players' announcements Wednesday, Hokies head football coach Justin Fuente released a statement saying:

"Our coaching staff remains firmly committed to developing a winning culture at Virginia Tech where our student-athletes can learn, grow and thrive in all aspects of their lives. As a head coach I certainly understand when young men desire to explore their options by entering themselves in the NCAA's transfer portal. Immediate eligibility for graduate transfers has become another piece of the changing landscape for college football student-athletes and coaches across the country.

I respect the fact that each individual's circumstances and situation are different. We will continue to support all our student-athletes and wish them best whether their future is at Virginia Tech or another institution. Our evaluation of all aspects of our football program is constant and ongoing. In my postseason one-on-one meetings with our student-athletes I asked for their input on what we can do better as a coaching staff and how I can better serve them as their head coach. I appreciate their feedback, as well as their willingness and desire to do whatever it takes to help us improve individually and collectively in 2019.

With that said, I'm very excited about the character and talent of the young men on our team and remain enthused about the potential of this football team for 2019 and beyond. We will continue working hard to get better, myself and our entire staff included. Our winter conditioning program began on Tuesday and I can't wait to get back on the field with our players and coaches this spring. Go Hokies!"

Virginia Tech went 6-and-7 in 2018, including a 3-and-4 record at home and a loss to Cincinnati in the Military Bowl. It was the first losing season for the Hokies since going 2-and-8 in 1992.