Instead of avoiding the topic, the preferred tactic of many coaches when it comes to an unexpected separation of a potential starter from a tradition-rich Power Five program, Fuente dived right in.
“Well, let’s just talk about it,” Fuente said Wednesday. “We have Adonis Alexander that is ineligible. The improvement I’ve seen in Adonis over the last couple years is remarkable. Everybody just always assumed that when I mentioned something about a defensive back, everybody just assumed I was talking about Adonis, and that is not necessarily true.
“Adonis, in the last meeting we had face-to-face, [said], ‘Coach Fuente, please use me as an example to our freshman.’ He just dug himself a hole, and he tried to get out of it. He just couldn’t get all the way out.”
Alexander announced on Twitter in June that he would be entering the NFL’s supplemental draft. The Redskins chose Alexander in the sixth round, making him Washington’s first supplemental draft pick since 2009.
At 6-foot-3 and 197 pounds, Alexander is suited to play either safety or cornerback, where the Hokies are seeking to retool following the graduation of Greg Stroman and Brandon Facyson. That duo combined to start 76 games at cornerback with 14 interceptions.
Another blow to Virginia Tech’s cornerbacks corps came when junior college transfer Jeremy Webb, a potential starter, tore his Achilles’ during offseason workouts. He is out for the year.
Thus having Alexander in the mix this season would have meant that much more as defensive coordinator Bud Foster continues to evaluate his remaining options.
Still, Fuente spoke almost glowingly about Alexander, who became the third former Virginia Tech player drafted by the Redskins this year. In April’s traditional NFL draft, they chose defensive tackle Tim Settle in the fifth round and Stroman in the seventh.
“ ‘Coach, thank you for not giving up on me but continuing to push me and for pushing me through,’ he would say, ‘my hardheaded time,’ ” Fuente said Alexander told him during their last in-person conversation. “This is a kid who wanted to come back that knew he needed our discipline level on a consistent basis, and he just couldn’t make it all the way back out.
“So for me, yeah, it’s disappointing because I hurt for that kid, but it’s a teaching point for all of us, for all of our kids.”
As far as players who will be with the Hokies this season, Fuente’s decision to bring Josh Jackson to the ACC’s annual media event confirmed confidence in his starting quarterback despite saying after the team’s spring game, “There’s still room for him to be pushed.”
Jackson started all 13 games last season as a redshirt freshman, setting school freshman records for passing touchdowns (20), passing yards (2,991) and 200-yard passing games (nine). He also led all Power Five freshmen in passing yards and completions (236).
Still, his status had been uncertain in early June because of an academics-related issue that Jackson indicated has since been resolved. He declined to discuss specifics, except to say it was “personal” and the uncertainty lasted about two weeks.
“Y’all think it’s very crazy. It wasn’t very crazy or anything like that,” Jackson said. “I just had some academic stuff I had to get handled. That’s about it.”
The Jackson episode was simply another chapter of the Hokies’ dramatic offseason.
Prominent in that regard was the resignation in late April of assistant coach Galen Scott, who at the time recently had been promoted to co-defensive coordinator.
The abrupt resignation came on the heels of reports, the first appearing in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, that Scott had used recruiting trips to pursue an extramarital affair.
The former rising star in the profession and close friend of Fuente admitted to the relationship and offered a public apology via several media outlets. When asked Wednesday about the circumstances surrounding Scott, Fuente declined to elaborate.
“There’s some things in that situation that I’m not willing to go down,” Fuente said. “I’m not willing to go down that road. I wish him and his family nothing but the best and hope that they are able to get everything that they need and want and hope that they have many years of success.”
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