Virginia Tech, Brent Pry Name Grant Wells Starting Quarterback

Grant Wells is the starting quarterback for Virginia Tech. (Jon Fleming)

After practice on Wednesday, Virginia Tech head coach Brent Pry announced Grant Wells is the team’s starting quarterback for 2022.

“We met with Grant and Jason [Brown] and let them both know that Grant would be our starting quarterback,” Pry told the media on Wednesday. “Grant has certainly elevated [his game]. Jason has done such a nice job, but Grant has been exceptional. Coach Glenn and Coach Bowen have done a great job with him.

“[He] puts in the extra [work], he’s a very coachable, a great student of the game, he’s getting better all the time. I’m just so impressed with the ball he throws, it makes it tough on the defense.”

A redshirt junior from Charleston, W. Va., Wells transferred from Marshall in January. He was a two-year starter for the Thundering Herd after redshirting in 2019, and he eclipsed 5,600 passing yards in two seasons. Wells was also the Conference USA Freshman of the Year in 2020 after leading the league with 2,091 passing yards and 18 touchdowns.

His career numbers: 5,623 yards, 460-715 (64.3%), 34 TDs, 22 INT; 115 rushes, 237 yards, 7 TDs.

The 6-1, 208-pound quarterback put up eye-opening numbers last season, which were previously mentioned in our quarterback preview: 295-445 (66.3%), 3,532 yards, 16 touchdowns, 13 interceptions; 60 rush attempts, 62 yards, 7 touchdowns.

His interception rate stands out, but that’s a season that would’ve gone down in history in Blacksburg. Here’s how some of his numbers would’ve translated to Tech’s record book:

Total passes for season: 445; VT record: 441 – Michael Brewer, 2014
Season passing yards: 3,532; VT record: 3,546 – Jerod Evans, 2016
Most passes completed in a game: 34 vs. N.C. Central; VT record: 34 – Don Strock vs. Houston, 1972
Most passes completed in season: 295; VT record: 268 – Jerod Evans, 2016
Yards-per-game average: 271.7; VT record: 294.8 – Don Strock, 1972
Completion percentage: 66.3%; VT record: 65.3% – Hendon Hooker, 2020

If all goes to plan under new offensive coordinator Tyler Bowen, it’s unlikely that Wells will need to air it out to that extent. But those numbers show his capability, and he showed it off with touchdown passes of 47 and 51 yards, respectively, to Kaleb Smith in Tech’s spring game.

Kaleb Smith caught two passes from Grant Wells in the spring game. That could be the new norm for the Hokies. (Jon Fleming)

I think his No. 1 asset is his deep-ball accuracy,” quarterbacks coach Brad Glenn said of Wells. “It’s nothing really that I’ve taught him. He came here with a really good feel for throwing a deep ball, and when you’ve got a guy like that that you’ve got confidence in that you can take more shots, usually it’s a really good rule of thumb, you like to take two or three deep shots a quarter. But with him it might be even more.”

Unlike previous stops, Glenn is just coaching the quarterbacks, no longer having to worry about being a coordinator. It’s changed his thought process and the way he attacks things, from the art of quarterbacking to being able to coach the quarterbacks every single rep without having to worry about other things.

It’s made an impact on Wells, who has a QB coach that isn’t an offensive coordinator for the first time in his career.

“It’s helped a ton more on the field than in the meeting room,” Wells said. “[Offensive coordinator Tyler Bowen is] calling the plays, he’s working with the tight ends and having somebody separate that is just as involved as T-Bow is in the offense to really go in depth of what he saw versus what I saw is very monumental in the moment because you can think about it a lot and go back in the meetings and have a different thought, but seconds after the play, you can go have this conversation about it. It really helps.”

At Marshall, Wells struggled with interceptions, often forcing things. That was a focus this offseason, something Glenn’s helped with along the way with catchphrases like, “You never go broke making a profit.”

“Whether it’s a three-yard gain or a 60-yard gain, completions are really all that matters,” Wells said. “Now that I have a full grasp of this offense, I know where I can force some things and maybe squeeze some balls in and that’s really helped.”

Asked if there’s a quarterback he’s coached who Wells reminds him of, Glenn paused, deep in thought. The former quarterbacks coach at Appalachian State, Western Carolina and Georgia State mentored Armanti Edwards with the Mountaineers and Troy Mitchell with the Catamounts. The former was a two-time FCS national champion and finished his collegiate career with 10,392 passing yards and 74 touchdowns, while the latter finished his career with 9,397 yards of total offense (7,354 passing).

“The first thing I think about when I think about Grant is just his accuracy,” Glenn said. “He’s got incredible accuracy. We give those guys an accuracy or location GPA, just like you do in school. You get a 1, 2, 3 and 4. And grading some of his balls, it’s incredible, his accuracy, whether it’s quicks, intermediates, deep balls. … He might be the most accurate I’ve ever coached.

“And then pocket movement. He just has a knack, a sense of when to move and how to move and not bail too quick. A lot of guys that [have] got decent running skills, they want to bail immediately. Well, he does a good job of that and hanging in the pocket and knowing when and when not to get out and then having little efficient movements with his feet. … He’s a total package.”

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