After being named the Virginia Tech starting quarterback for the 2019 season Aug. 22, Ryan Willis leads a Hokie squad with many question marks. Willis was part of a productive yet inconsistent offense in a 2018 season that had many ups and downs, but now he is entering his second year for the Hokies alongside only four returning offensive starters. A promising ACC schedule, talent at the wide receiver position and more continuity with head coach Justin Fuente should lessen some of the inexperience issues, but what should Hokie football fans expect from the redshirt senior?
It may not have seemed like it throughout the 10 games Willis started last year — he finished with a 4–6 record — but he has the tools to be a top-tier quarterback in the ACC and very well could lead the Hokies atop a wide open ACC Coastal Division.
At 6’4” 224 lbs, Willis has great size for the quarterback position, and he showed the ability to run the ball effectively in Fuente’s offense. He has a strong enough arm to make all the throws needed at the Division I level. He also showed the toughness you want to see throughout the season and performed in big games in 2018 against Virginia and Marshall.
Despite Willis’ ability to beat out two hungry backup quarterbacks in Hendon Hooker and Quincy Patterson, there is still a reason he did not have the job locked up going into training camp for the 2019 season.
Willis posted a below-average 58.5% completion percentage in 2018, something he’ll need to improve this season. Although his statistics are consistent with some of the top quarterbacks in the ACC, the game-to-game consistency needs to improve along with his accuracy and decision making.
The 2019 offense is dependent on the consistency of Ryan Willis and the development of the players around him. It is hard to put a read on where the team is going to be at a month from now, but come this Saturday against Boston College, we should be able to see what direction the quarterback position is going in. At the end of the day, Willis should be highly motivated to prove a lot of doubters wrong in a very winnable ACC division.