Virginia Tech Pursuing Former Rice Kicker Zach Hoban

Mike McDaniel

Virginia Tech is in the mix for former Rice kicker Zach Hoban, Hoban told Sports Illustrated in an interview.

Hoban, who kicked this past season for the Owls, served as the team's kickoff specialist, where he averaged 59.9 yards per kick and 14 touchbacks on his 34 kickoff attempts.

The West Orange, New Jersey native was offered a preferred walk-on opportunity from Virginia Tech special teams coordinator James Shibest, who told Hoban he'd likely be offered a full scholarship if he won the starting kicker job in the 2021-22 season.

Virginia Tech reached out looking for someone with experience kicking at the collegiate level as they form their roster beyond next season.

"Coach Burnham, the special teams graduate assistant reached out to me the first week of April," Hoban told Sports Illustrated.

"He told me they were graduating their three starting specialists (Oscar Bradburn, Brian Johnson, and John Parker Romo will all be seniors next season). He said they were looking to bring in a transfer kickoff and field goal guy with college experience, not just some experience, but someone who has been through a program and knows what it takes from a daily grind and commitment standpoint. About a week after that, Coach Shibest reached out to me and extended the preferred walk-on offer."

I asked Hoban what he was looking for in his new school that was different from his previous school, Rice.

"The biggest thing I'm looking for that I wasn't able to get at my last school, is a place in a P5 conference with a big-time fan base that is extremely supportive. I'm also looking for a school with a great business program and a respected degree," Hoban told SI.

Other schools involved in Hoban's recruiting process include Minnesota, Rutgers, and UCLA.

"Rutgers has been pushing for me hardest so far, to be honest. Coach Schiano and Coach Scheier, the special teams coordinator, are usually in contact with me every other day. Virginia Tech is right there behind them," Hoban said.

"With that being said, I don't really have a leader. Everyone is neck and neck right now."

With a decision slated for early May for Hoban, I asked how the recruiting process has been for him as a transfer during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to when he was being initially recruited out of high school.

"I have never visited Minnesota, but Coach Fleck and his support staff have been really understanding and cognizant of me making my decision 'half-blind' if I choose them. Their virtual tours have actually been very good and they have given me and my family a good feel for the school. It's been interesting to say the least."

"I had visited the other three schools in high school. UCLA was a dream school for me growing up, and I took a visit in high school, but that was with the old coaching staff before Chip Kelly. I've been to Virginia Tech a bunch, because my family used to vacation in South Carolina. I've always loved Blacksburg and thought it was one of the coolest campuses I've seen. I'm from New Jersey, so I'm most familiar with Rutgers and was recruited heavily by them out of high school, but that was with the old staff as well," Hoban continued.

As for what's driving his early-May timeframe?

"I'm just excited to make my decision and for the process to be over."

It'll be interesting to see if the Hokies are able to eventually nab Hoban. If so, he will sit out the 2020-21 season due to transfer rules and will have three years of eligibility remaining.