Virginia Tech’s Jerod Evans Heating Up At Right Time

    Virginia Tech landed one of the best JUCO quarterbacks in the country this past offseason. He's proving to be a perfect fit for Justin Fuente's Hokies offense.

    October 1, 2016

    Virginia Tech landed one of the best JUCO quarterbacks in the country this past offseason, and he’s proving to be a perfect fit for Justin Fuente’s offense.

    For the first time in Virginia Tech’s football history, a transfer won the starting quarterback job in his first season in Blacksburg.

    Head coach Justin Fuente tabbed junior-college import Jerod Evans over fifth-year senior Brenden Motley and true freshman Josh Jackson as his No. 1 signal-caller for the season opener against Liberty, and the Hokies haven’t looked back.

    The 6-3, 238-pounder from Dallas has been everything as advertised—and more—since he arrived on campus, showcasing his impressive dual-threat ability. In his Hokies debut, Evans went 20-of-32 passing for 221 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions, while adding 46 yards on five rushes. A similar big day ensued in Week 3 against Boston College, which let him gain 301 total yards and account for five scores.

    However, the Battle at Bristol against Tennessee in Week 2 didn’t go as Evans and the Hokies had planned.

    Turnover problems that the team experienced in the opening win bled into the game against the SEC East favorites. Virginia Tech’s first-quarter dominance against the Vols was mitigated because of giveaways and bad penalties. The Hokies ended up losing five fumbles, three of which resulted in Tennessee touchdowns.

    Fuente said after the game that is was obvious that he had to do a better job emphasizing ball security. Evans, who did not throw an interception against the Vols but was involved in a flubbed, second-quarter handoff, simply blamed himself.

    “As a leader, I will do a better job of making sure my guys are in tune,” he said after the game. “I put this all on me.”

    Such sentiments are what great leaders profess when they know their team is depending on them. And Evans is no exception.

    While the Hokies have yet to play the toughest ACC contenders on their schedule, last week’s performance against East Carolina should not go unnoticed. The Pirates had won the last two meetings with the Hokies, and the end of the Frank Beamer era did not exactly feature a lot of offensive fireworks. Even his calling card special teams dramatics had come to a halt. Bud Foster’s defense was the only positive left for the program.

    That all changed with the hiring of Fuente away from Memphis. There’s a different aura surrounding the program with Evans running the new coach’s offensive system.

    Virginia Tech recorded 462 total yards in the 54-17 victory over the Pirates, including 282 passing yards and three touchdowns from Evans. And yet, the 97 rushing yards, including a 55-yard scoring run, was perhaps the most impressive aspect of his performance. It was his first rushing touchdown of the season, and he managed to break five tackles en route to the end zone. It’s something that Hokie fans may see a lot more of this season.

    Evans, who originally enrolled at Air Force in 2013 before transferring to Trinity Valley Community College in Texas, was one of the top dual-threat JUCO quarterbacks in the Class of 2016. He threw for 38 touchdowns in just eight games, and he tossed only three interceptions over 300 pass attempts. He was recruited by Fuente and his staff at Memphis, and he followed and enrolled early when Fuente left for Blacksburg.

    It’s a relationship that only figures to get stronger and produce even better results on the field.

    I asked Fuente during Wednesday’s weekly ACC coaches teleconference what sets Evans apart from some of the other quarterbacks that he has worked with in the past.

    “Jerod has a great desire to play well,” Fuente said. “He also has a sense of knowing that he has room to improve. He is a very good listener. He will absolutely listen to what we’re trying to teach and try and replicate that.

    “On a week-to-week basis, he spends as much time as anyone I’ve been around in the office digesting the game plan, going over the looks that he’s going to see. He’s very diligent in his preparation, and I think that’s giving him a chance to play well.”

    There’s no question that Evans is becoming more and more comfortable in Fuente’s system. And it comes at just the right time, as the Hokies’ schedule picks up in difficulty following this weekend’s bye.

    Virginia Tech still must contend with the likes of North Carolina, Miami and Pitt. And while Notre Dame sits at 1-3, the Irish can still put a lot of points up on the scoreboard. But Evans is surrounded by talented skill-position players and is running a system that helped Memphis win 19 games between 2014-15. He has the ability to hurt defenses both with his arm and his legs, and his combination of size and athleticism makes it difficult for defenders to bring him down, as evidenced by that touchdown run against ECU.

    Fuente said the Hokies are still developing their drop-back passing game and that they have been more reliant on the play-action game thus far. So a full-functioning offense is still a work in progress.

    Hokie fans cannot deny the results so far, and Evans has already shown to be a quick study.

    That same dedication to preparation each and every day has helped him quickly grow into the leader of the offense, and it will also allow him to be the face of a new era of Hokie football.

    MORE: 1-128 College Football Rankings – Week 5


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