With the transfer portal closing last week, let’s look at the Virginia Tech transfer portal activity and see who will make an immediate impact for the Hokies next fall. Hokie Nation voiced disappointment last season when head coach Brent Pry and his staff only signed five players out of the portal, but that was because Pry put maximum priority in rebuilding relationships with the in-state high school coaches and others in the footprint.
One year later, Pry and Company have already begun to see the fruits of their labor, as they closed on a lot of high targets on signing day and in the portal. Although they only took six portal players this year, these six are explosive, skill position guys. Last year’s portal activity was to build depth; this year’s intent is to challenge incumbents for the starting jobs in an effort to make the team – particularly the offense – better.
While all six portal players stand a good chance to see the field, these three players have a great chance to be the saviors of the Virginia Tech transfer portal class:
Kyron Drones – Quarterback Transfer from Baylor
Not much is known about Drones, as he was a backup at Baylor last year and only threw 23 passes, completing 14 of them for 219 yards with one touchdown and one interception. That is not much of a resume.
However, at 6’2” and 223 pounds, Drones is a big, athletic quarterback. He also is a former four-star recruit, and he has three years of eligibility remaining. Coming out of high school, his scouting report indicated that he had a big arm and impressive ability to create. He was an Elite 11 quarterback who 247Sports projected “to the high-major level with multi-year starter potential and an NFL Draft ceiling.”
If Drones can beat out incumbent Grant Wells, and if the offensive scheme changes from a two tight-end power set to more of a read-option, Drones could have an immediate impact as a dual threat quarterback.
Hokie fans are probably looking at this situation and thinking back to 2007 when Sean Glennon was the incumbent and Tyrod Taylor was the new guy. With his dynamic running ability complementing his strong arm, Taylor eventually won the starting job and the Hokies won 11 games, including the ACC championship. Will that happen again this year with Wells vs. Drones? 11 wins and the ACC title are unlikely. But Drones as the leader of a new offensive scheme is what has many Tech fans chomping at the bit.
And if that happens and Drones performs well, then he can easily be the savior of the Virginia Tech transfer portal.
Bhayshul Tuten – Running Back Transfer from North Carolina A&T
The Hokies struggled to run the ball in 2022. Malachi Thomas was hurt for the first five games, leaving Keshawn King and Jalen Holston to carry the load. The undersized King performed admirably, racking up 448 yards in an offense that just could not move the ball. Injuries and a mismatched scheme kept King from being much of a difference maker though. Jalen Holston also struggled to find space until the final game of the season. They were Tech’s top two runners, and both are gone – King has entered the transfer portal and Holston has since graduated.
Thus, it is no surprise that Virginia Tech used the portal to find a player for the backfield. Enter Bhayshul Tuten, a 5’11”, 195-pound running back who will push Thomas for the starting role. Tuten ran for 1363 yards and 13 touchdowns last year, and he had 342 yards and 4 touchdowns receiving the ball.
Keep in mind that Tech only had 1219 net rushing yards as a TEAM last season! They only scored 15 rushing TDs! Tuten ran for more yards and scored almost that many touchdowns. How can Hokie Nation not be excited about this addition?
Scouting reports agree that Tuten has a low center of gravity, is built well, and is fast and elusive. He has been compared to Khalil Herbert, Mike Imoh, and Shyrone Stith. That’s not a bad trio for comparison!
Yes, he played at the FCS level last year. But his measurables are solid for a feature back, and he and Malachi Thomas (if healthy) will likely be RB1 and RB1A. Legitimately RB1 and RB1A, not like last year’s version that did not pan out.
If Tuten can produce at 75% of what he did last year, he will still be light years ahead of any Virginia Tech running back from 2022, and that should result in more offense and more touchdowns. And that will result in happier Tech fans!
So look for Bhayshul Tuten to make an immediate impact this fall, possibly greater than that of Drones.
Da’Quan Felton – Wide Receiver Transfer from Norfolk State
The Virginia Tech transfer portal hit the receiver position hard. After losing its leading receiver (Kaleb Smith) to the portal, the Hokies brought in three talented playmakers who will vie for all three starting roles immediately. Of the three, Da’Quan Felton is probably the least known but stands to have the greatest potential to outperform expectation.
What you see is what you get in ODU transfer Ali Jennings. He is a big guy at 6’ 2”, and he averaged about 1,000 receiving yards in each of the past two seasons. He has 14 touchdowns in that span – 9 of which came last season. He is very much like Kaleb Smith was for VT last year – a go-to guy – but with bigger numbers. He will get his catches and he will get his yards. He will be WR1.
It is also known that Jaylin Lane, the 5’ 8” receiver out of MTSU, is shifty, quick, and dynamic. If he can get the ball in space, look out – he had 69 catches for 940 yards and 5 touchdowns last year. But Tech had a similar player in Keshawn King, and the Hokies never seemed to get him the ball in space. There is hope that a new offensive scheme is coming to Blacksburg, but until the play calling is seen in spring practices, and moreso next fall, Lane could be an unknown commodity.
That leaves us with ‘Quan Felton from Norfolk State. He is tall – ESPN lists him at 6’4”- and he was productive for the Spartans. Felton tallied 67 catches for 1065 yards and 9 touchdowns – 7 in 2022 – over the last two years. If Ali Jennings is getting bracketed in coverage, and if Tuten is effective running the ball, and if Drones becomes a dangerous dual threat quarterback, that could result in opportunity for Felton. If defenses are scheming to stop those three, look for Felton to have a break-out year.
Final Thoughts on the Virginia Tech Transfer Portal
There has been some excitement in Hokie Nation about the signing of these offensive players, as there should be. All five of them will battle for starting roles and it is likely that several – if not all – are starters at some time this fall.
However, don’t drink the Kool Aid just yet. It would be wise to stay cautiously optimistic. None of these players hailed from Power 5 conferences, so although they may have had success here or there in single games against P5 opponents, none have the experience of playing against Power 5 competition week in and week out. Remember Jaden Blue? He was a former 1,000-yard receiver from Temple. He only caught 12 balls for 128 yards for the Hokies last season. Who’s to say that won’t happen again with this year’s transfers?
Jennings and Lane come from G5 schools. Felton and Tuten hail from FCS schools. And Drones was a backup at Baylor. They all possess talent and athleticism, so there is reason to have hope. All of them are on campus for spring practice, so a lot more will be known by the end of April. It feels good to know that the coaching staff has addressed the glaring need for more weapons on offense. But let’s not put the cart before the horse.
Personally, I’m hoping for an offensive resurgence, the kind that can result in weekly headlines such as “Drones Strikes Lead Tech to Victory” or “Hokies Win as King Tut Runs for 150” or “Hokies Hit the Quan for Game Winning Touchdown.”
That would draw many smiles in Hokie Nation, and it would make these guys the saviors of this Virginia Tech transfer portal class.
To read more of my articles on Virginia Tech football, click here.
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