Hokies' Fuente ready to put brutal offseason behind

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- After dismissing two starters on defense and dealing with academic concerns for his quarterback, Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said he's eager to wave goodbye to a brutal offseason for the Hokies.

Fuente made the rounds at the ACC's annual kickoff event Wednesday, and he said he's not trying to run from the off-field distractions that have provided the bulk of the offseason fodder for his team.

"We talk openly about it," Fuente said. "We talk about what happened, the decisions that were made, the decisions I made and what's expected. It's been more eventful than I'd like, but we're using it as some good teaching opportunities."

Last week, Virginia Tech dismissed starting linebacker Mook Reynolds, who now faces charges of selling or distributing marijuana or the possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or distribute it. Earlier this offseason, starting cornerback Adonis Alexander was ruled academically ineligible for 2018. He has since been selected by the Washington Redskins in the NFL's supplemental draft.

Both were key parts of a Virginia Tech defense that lost six other starters, as well as transfer Jeremy Webb, who was expected to contribute at cornerback this year.

"We have some guys who will hopefully be healthy and ready to go who have played some, but certainly there will be a lot of teaching going on," Fuente said. "But they're eager to play and play well. They just have to prove they can do it on a consistent basis. But I like them and the way they're going about their business."

Quarterback Josh Jackson's status with the team is finally settled after a tumultuous offseason that included rumblings that he, too, could be ruled ineligible due to academic issues. That situation was resolved in late June, and Fuente said the sophomore who started every game last season is in good standing. Fuente also downplayed some of Jackson's on-field struggles, including a woeful final month in which he completed just 55 percent of his throws with three touchdowns and five interceptions.

"It had as much to do with everybody around him as it did him," Fuente said. "He has improvement to make, and I know his numbers dropped off statistically, but I don't think there was a huge drop-off in our grading of how he played."

Jackson said Wednesday he was always confident his "personal academic issue" that led to his eligibility being in doubt for a few weeks would be resolved.

"Everybody texted me, 'What's going on? What is this?' I'm like, 'Calm down, it will be just fine.' And everything ended up working out. ... It wasn't necessarily out of my hands," Jackson said. "I just had some things I needed to take care of. It's a personal academic issue I had to handle and that's it."

"It's unfortunate because it ended up being resolved and what came out was false accusations of me," Jackson said of his situation becoming public. "It's unfortunate having to hear that or read a false story about myself. ... It is what it is. It's something you've got to get through. It's another situation you've got to take care of. It's life."

ESPN's Adam Rittenberg contributed to this report.