Who will be the most important to getting the Justin Fuente era off to a good start? As we've done the previous three seasons at our previous home, we've counted down the players we believed were most important to Virginia Tech's success. And this season is no different, as we've compiled the top 16 for 2016.
Each of our staff members compiled a list of who they believed were the 16 most important players for the Hokies this season. Each player then earned a score based on where each staff member ranked them (16 points for a first place vote, 15 points for second place, 14 points for third place, etc.) and the points were added up for a true staff ranking. Tiebreakers included most higher votes and most overall votes.
For each of the next 16 days, we'll reveal each of our top players. Be sure to chime in on our message board with your thoughts and who you think should be the most important players this season.
No. 15 Joey Slye
Jason Stamm, Publisher
You can't undervalue the importance of having a good kicker. In some games, a missed field goal or an extra point could be the difference in a win or a loss.
Slye has proven to be a dependable kicker for the Hokies and will need to continue that this season. Last season, he missed just one extra point in 42 attempts and connected on 23 of 30 field goal attempts.
To be fair, three of those misses took place from over 50 yards. But if you ask Slye, he'll probably tell you he should have made them. One of those attempts came against Duke, when he missed a 67-yard attempt at the end of regulation in a bit of clock confusion. That would have tied the mark for longest field goal made in FBS history.
Slye certainly can make long field goals. He's boasted before that he's made field goals from 70 yards in practice and said last fall that he has video of himself connecting from 64 yards.
And on kickoffs, if a returner gets by the rest of the kickoff coverage team, Slye is there to make the tackle. He did play defense in high school.
The hope is that Virginia Tech's offense will put up enough points through the end zone this season in coach Justin Fuente's new spread offense. But it doesn't help to pick up three points when you can. Those add up, too.
Kelly Porazzo, Staff Writer
It seems Fuente has tried to mold this team to be the best for the home opener. One area that has succeeded in seasons past was the kicking position, much of that thanks to the strong leg of punter A.J. Hughes. With Hughes' graduation, the strongest leg on the team designation might belong to Slye.
Slye had a 76.7% success rate last year. This shows that he can handle the pressure, but still has some room to grow. However, it will be important for Slye to hold his ground and continue the success as a kicker to help Virginia Tech keep putting points on the board.
Delaney Hall, Staff Writer
Slye played in all 13 games and logged 116 plays. He went 23 of 30 on field goals, had 71 kickoffs and 51 touchbacks. The stats speak for themselves, and Slye’s remarkable leg and accuracy are pivotal to the Hokies.
Slye brings a sense of purpose to this very underrated position; however, still needs to break through with a kick longer than 50 yards. His longest career kick measures 49 yards.
If the Hokies can give him more leverage on his attempts, Fuente won’t have to worry about Slye’s reliable leg.