Virginia Tech’s Brock Hoffman off to quick begin
The arduous journey back to the field continues on Saturday afternoon when the Hokies play their first street game against the winless Duke (3-0) about 120 miles east of Hoffman’s childhood home in Statesville, NC
Hoffman (6 feet 3, 317 pounds) moved to Virginia Tech from Coastal Carolina to be closer to his family. His mother continued to experience side effects from having a benign brain tumor removed in 2017. By changing schools, Hoffman’s transport time was almost halved.
After receiving extensive records regarding her condition, the NCAA denied Hoffman’s initial request for a medical hardship waiver and subsequent appeal. Hoffman later revealed that the decision had moved his mother Stephanie to tears.
Coach Justin Fuente repeatedly questioned the rationale for the NCAA’s verdict, calling it disappointing at best, while lamenting the hardship Hoffman and his family went through only to suffer yet another setback.
“He’s a really smart player so he can help other people not only know what to do but also know how to do it,” said Fuente. “I can say that without a doubt: He helped other people improve their game.”
Hoffman has played a red shirt last season, trained with the Scout team and not complained publicly before making his debut with the Hokies in front of a handful of family members at Lane Stadium, something only relatives of players and coaches allowed in the midst of novel coronavirus participate in pandemic.
Hoffman won the starting job during training camp and prevailed on the depth map ahead of reigning Bryan Hudson. The remainder of the offensive line consists of Lecitus Smith, a Redshirt junior, and Christian Darrisaw, a junior on the left, plus sophomores Doug Nester on the right and Luke Tenuta on the right.
“Since I’ve been here, I’ve only been trying to take that advantage and that nastiness into our own,” said Hoffman, a two-year starter for the Chanticleers, after helping Virginia Tech rack up 314 rushing yards in a 45-24 triumph over North Carolina State. “I started seeing it last year.”
Hoffman was named ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week and was praised by his teammates for the calls that resulted in the Hokies averaging 7.7 yards per rush while serving in Fuentes two-quarterback rotation from Braxton Burmeister and Quincy Patterson II broke off smoothly.
Burmeister started instead of the ailing Hendon Hooker, who, according to Fuente, was back in training this week and is questionable for Saturday.
Khalil Herbert, a Kansas transfer, rushed back for 104 yards and a touchdown, and Rutgers transfer Raheem Blackshear had a quick touchdown and 28 yards before cramps held him well in hand for much of the second half with the result.
Herbert and Blackshear had better vision than most of Hoffman’s gritty performances that left Wolfpack defenders on the heels or on the ground, which allowed Virginia Tech to dictate conditions on the border, despite being based on positive tests or 23 players and more Trainers were inferior to contact tracing.
Hoffman worked primarily against nasal tackle Alim McNeill and limited the NFL prospect of one tackle.
There was also a lot of lively chatter in the trenches, with officials even warning Hoffman several times to keep his hands and emotions in check, according to Smith.
“If you stand on the opposite side of the ball from Brock, you’re not going to like him very much at all,” said Smith. “Indeed, it will make you hate him.”