The #24 Virginia Tech Hokies open fall camp on Friday - beginning official preparation for the 2020 season-opener against NC State on September 12th in Blacksburg.
After a turbulent 2019 football season that saw the Hokies conclude an 8-5 season with a loss to Kentucky in the Belk Bowl, the offseason has been anything but normal.
There were another handful of transfers, a pursuit of head coach Justin Fuente from Baylor, and a worldwide pandemic that canceled spring practice, forced Tech's best player Caleb Farley to opt out of the season, and completely changed the schedule for the Hokies and the outlook on the college football season as a whole.
In spite of it all, fall camp lends optimism - a word that's been difficult to quantify in the last six months, with life as we all know it getting turned completely upside down.
Virginia Tech returns nine starters on defense, and a wealth of experience on offense. For the first time in Justin Fuente's tenure, the offensive line is rich with depth and experience, the quarterback position is the most stable that it's ever been, and expectations for the defense - even with a first-year defensive coordinator - are sky-high.
There will be plenty of questions for Fuente on Friday when he meets with the media, regarding expectations in the COVID-19 environment for the upcoming season, and for his team as a whole. There is anything but certainty given the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, but the Hokies will still be expected to perform on the field at a high level.
Year Five will prove to be a pivotal one in the judgment of the trajectory of the program under Justin Fuente.
We'll see how it all pans out when the Hokies take the field for their first full team workout on Friday afternoon.