By Marty Gordon
Virginia Tech has announced its football roster going into the spring, and it includes several early enrollees and transfers.
Eight quarterbacks dot the roster with Grant Wells, being the only upperclassman. Recent transfer Kyron Drones is listed as a Redshirt-sophomore, while sophomore Tahj Bullock remains in a very crowded quarterback room. Others that will be toting the clipboard at some time this coming season include Devin Farrell, Ben Locklear, and true freshmen Sylan Wittke and William “Pop” Watson III.
The team has added seven transfers: long snapper Griffin Armstrong, defensive back Derrick Canteen, quarterback Kyron Drones, wide receivers Da’Quan Felton, Ali Jennings and Jaylin Lane and running back Bhayshul Tuten.
Drones arrives in Blacksburg following two seasons at Baylor. As a redshirt freshman in 2022, he played in five games off the bench as a reserve quarterback. He was 14-of-23 for a touchdown and 219 yards with one interception. He also rushed eight times for 49 yards and two touchdowns. He rushed for a nine-yard touchdown and was 5-of-7 passing for 100 yards in his collegiate debut in the season opener vs. the University of Albany.
Drones was pressed into service early in the third quarter at West Virginia after an injury to quarterback Blake Shapen, going 7 of 14 for 95 yards and a score and rushing twice for 24 yards, including a career-long of 17 yards He appeared in two games as a freshman in 2021 before being redshirted. Drones was a member of the 2022 Second-Team Academic All-Big 12 team and was named to the Big 12 Commissioner’s honor roll.
The Pearland, Texas native prepped at Shadow Creek High School where he passed for 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior in six games while rushing for 228 yards and two scores, helping his team to the 2019 state championship and a 16-0 record.
He earned Offensive MVP honors in the championship game and was named as the 10-5A Overall MVP as well as a Third-Team All-State selection. Drones was rated four stars by 247 Sports, the No. 7 dual-threat quarterback, the No. 20 player in Texas and No. 125 nationally. He was the No. 10 dual-threat quarterback earning a four-star rating from ESPN and ranked No. 60 overall in Texas. He had a three-star rating by Rivals, the No. 45 player in Texas and the No. 15 dual-threat quarterback. Drones also played basketball.
Felton (WR, 6-5, 210) comes to Tech from Norfolk State. He appeared in all 11 games and started six times as a redshirt freshman in 2022. Felton ranked second on the team with 28 catches for 492 yards with two touchdowns. He ranked seventh in the MEAC in receiving yards per game and 10th in total receptions.
His best outing with the Spartans came at South Carolina State where he racked up nine catches for 163 yards and three touchdowns, all career highs.
The Portsmouth, Va., product played at Churchland High School, garnering first-team All-Region 4A honors as a senior. Hecaught 43 passes for 741 yards and 10 touchdowns while helping the Truckers advance to the regional playoffs.
Jennings (WR, 6-2, 195) comes to the Hokies from Old Dominion where he made the All-Sun Belt first team and earned Phil Steele All-American honors in 2022. He led the team with 54 receptions for 959 yards and nine touchdowns and ranked third in the country, tops in the Sun Belt with 106.6 yards per game. His nine TDs led the conference. Jennings tallied five 100-yard receiving games and had a stretch of seven straight games with a touchdown.
In 2021, Jennings earned Conference USA Honorable Mention accolades after starting all 13 games at wide receiver. He finished second on the team with 62 receptions and led the squad with 1,066 receiving yards.
The Richmond product spent two seasons at West Virginia following a standout career at Highland Springs High School where he earned VHSL All-State First Team honors, All-Richmond Metro Area First Team honors, and All-Class 5A (Region B) First Team Offense honors as a senior.
Jennings helped lead Highland Springs to a perfect 15-0 record and the 2018 VHSL Group 5A State Championship. He was selected to the North roster of the 2018 Virginia Big River Rivalry All-Star Game and was rated as a three-star prospect by ESPN, Rivals, and 247Sports.
Rivals ranked Jennings the No. 19 player in the state of Virginia and the nation’s No. 78 receiver. ESPN ranked him No. 28 and 247 in the country..
Armstrong (LS, 5-10, 220) spent two seasons at Louisiana Tech, redshirting in 2021, before playing in all 12 games in 2022. He was named to the Conference USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll in 2022. He was born in Fairbanks, Alaska as a member of a military family, before living in Valencia, Spain and eventually South Korea where he graduated from Osan American High School. He played rugby throughout middle school and high school.
Canteen (DB, 5-11, 190) joins the Tech program from Georgia Southern where he played in 30 career games, making 25 starts. Over the course of the past three seasons, Canteen recorded 117 tackles, including 2.5 for loss, one sack, seven interceptions, 22 passes defended, one fumble recovery, and one touchdown.
In 2020, Canteen started all 13 games, recording 48 tackles and tying the FBS lead with six interceptions. He was named a Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America and The Athletic. He was also a first-team All-Sun Belt Conference selection. After playing in just two games the previous season because of an injury, Canteen returned in 2022, making 64 tackles and finishing with 12 passes defended and one interception.
He played at Evans High School in Evans, Georgia, and was ranked as the No. 268 cornerback in the country and the No. 207 player in Georgia by 247Sports. A first-team all-region selection and the Athlete of the Year for the 3-AAAAAA region, Canteen was named the county’s defensive player of the year after recording 61 tackles, two interceptions, and eight pass breakups as a senior on defense to go along with 14 catches for 473 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 43 yards per catch on offense. He was selected for the Sixth Annual Border Bowl.