VT basketball loses player to injuries; shutdown leaves questions for football

Photo courtesy of VT Athletics – Virginia Tech sophomore guard Jonathan Kabongo has been medically disqualified from the program because of unknown injuries.


From the sidelines

By Marty Gordon

The Virginia Tech basketball team took a hit this week with the announcement that sophomore guard Jonathan Kabongo has been medically disqualified after battling through multiple injuries.

“It goes without saying that Virginia Tech is a better program today from the presence of Jonathan Kabongo,”said men’s basketball head coach MikeYoung. “Despite his struggles with injuries, Jonathan never let that affect his attitude within our program and certainly not his efforts in the classroom. We are excited Jonathan has remained committed to pursuing his education, and we will remain committed to him throughout that process. His discipline, commitment to detail and perseverance will be a tremendous asset in whatever field he chooses to follow.”

Kabongo, who did not play in any games this past season due to injuries, played in 21 contests his freshman year, totaling 31 points, 12 rebounds and four assists in 102 minutes of game action.

“I would like to thank Virginia Tech basketball for still allowing me to complete my education at this amazing institution,” Kabongo said. “My academic experience here has been amazing and I’m excited to finish strong. I also just want to take the time to remind anyone who feels defined by what they are known for, to remember that it’s not the end of the world when it’s no longer a part of your life. We can be anything we want to be, and if you feel like what you used to be is not you anymore, don’t let the reputation of your past hold you back.”

Turning to football, the coronavirus shutdown has left the program swirling with questions.

The spring game was cancelled and with it most of the spring practices, and now the Hokie football team has not had the chance for any summer practices. What does this mean for the football program?

Well, it could mean Coach Justin Fuente will enter the fall with several unanswered questions. We had expected to see a quarterback battle between eventual-starter Hendon Hooker and Oregon transfer Braxton Burmeister. Hooker did a good job taking the helm last season and knows the playbook. He will be ready to play.

But the California native Burmeister has a cannon for an arm and the size at 6-1, 210 to be great in the pocket. In four games as a sophomore at Oregon, he completed 5 of 10 passes and rushed for 29 yards. He had made five starts and played in seven games as a true freshman and was just the second true freshman Oregon quarterback to start a game since 1983. He completed 57 percent of his passes (44 of 77) for 330 yards and finished with two touchdowns and six interceptions.

Coming out of high school, he was listed as a four-star prospect and rated as the No. 7 dual-threat quarterback and the No. 27 player in the state of California. He was named a first-team Parade All-American and “Rising Star” following his senior season. He set San Diego Section career records in total yards (14,972), passing yards (11,512), passing touchdowns (127) and pass completions (853) in four varsity seasons. He threw for 4,461 yards and 53 touchdowns with just eight interceptions while also rushing for 1,470 yards and 27 touchdowns.

In the midst of the quarterback discussion, the program is still reeling after losing a top signal caller from Texas who decided to decommit from Tech to attend Auburn.

Now, the Hokies are still looking for a quarterback commit for 2021.

There could also be a log jam at running back where three new faces will be fighting for a chance to be on the field. Again, the lack of preseason work could have fans and the coaching staff scratching our heads. Fans will have to learn their names as the season progresses.

The other question looms in the depth at receiver. Four departures to the transfer portal have left the team looking for replacements.

Some help could come from an experienced Evan Fairs, who took the DorothyfromtheWizard- ofOz route and is not in Kansas anymore. The grad transfer will be eligible immediately, but the question is how he might help. In only 25 career starts at the University of Kansas, he produced only 28 receptions for 392 yards and one touchdown.

Fairs (6-3, 205), a native of Fulshear, Texas, had a breakout season in 2017 when he caught 24 passes for 335 yards, including a 33-yard TD catch at Oklahoma State. He also registered a career-high seven catches for 101 yards at Texas earlier that season. In 2018, he played in four games before being sidelined with a knee injury and being redshirted. Fair played in two games under first year head coach Les Miles in 2019, posting one catch for 21 yards.  
Fairs joins former Kansas teammate and running back
Khalil Herbert in Blacksburg. Herbert transferred to Tech earlier this year. He could provide some of that depth in the backfield.

On the defensive side of things, it still has yet to be seen what new defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton has at his disposal and how green the coach really is after serving under longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster.

The defense has always been strong in Blacksburg, and we will wait to see what Hamilton’s squad can do.





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