Amid staff changes, Fuente excited for Hokies’ return to Belk Bowl

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WFXR) — It was the first time we heard from Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente since the Hokies lost the Commonwealth Cup in Charlottesville on November 29.

” I just couldn’t be more excited to be here right now,” Fuente said. “Obviously, we’re in the middle of recruiting and all that sort of stuff.”

While the focus of Wednesday’s press conference at Bank of America Stadium was on the upcoming Belk Bowl, much of the discussion with Fuente was on the changes in his coaching staff, including the promotion of Justin Hamilton to defensive coordinator.

“I did not offer the job to anybody except Justin,” Fuente said. “It just kept coming back to him and his ability to lead and our ability to surround him with a great staff.”

The staff also saw several departures including defensive line coach Charley Wiles, who leaves after 24 seasons.

Fuente didn’t have any immediate answers on how the coaching changes would affect the Hokies preparations for the Dec. 31 game against Kentucky.

“Well, we’ll work through all of that, to be honest with ya,” Fuente said. “As we go through this, we’ll sit down and get it all hashed out. I just have a lot going on right now. “

It’ll be a return trip to the Belk Bowl for Fuente. Last time he was in Charlotte for the Belk Bowl, the Hokies staged a come-from-behind victory against Arkansas to cap off his first season at the helm.

Fuente says he has plenty of memories, not just from the game but from the week leading up to it.

“I felt in all earnest that our players had a really good time, we had a great senior class that really wanted to win the game,” Fuente said. “We just weren’t playing very well and our guys really responded at halftime and came out and played up to our ability in the second half and found a way to win the game. “

Now the fourth-year head coach looks to create new memories with a win over the Wildcats in a game that’s still weeks away.

“Bottomline is we do want to play well so we shorten practices up a bit but that doesn’t mean we ease up.”

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