BLACKSBURG—Brock Hoffman could be the answer at center, or one of the guard positions, for this year’s Virginia Tech football team. Of course, the Hokies can’t pencil him in on their offensive line until the Coastal Carolina transfer gets his own answer from the NCAA.
Hoffman is waiting to hear back from the legislative body of college athletics on a waiver request he filed to be eligible to play this season. It’s been five months and there’s been no final decision.
“Obviously, we’d like a resolution, not just for us, but for Brock and his family,” Tech offensive line coach Vance Vice said this week. “He’s got a chance to be a very good player. Just waiting on to find out when.”
Hoffman originally applied for a waiver from the NCAA to play this season in March. In April, the NCAA informed Virginia Tech it had denied Hoffman’s request.
Tech’s compliance office then filed a reconsideration request, adding additional information to the original application. If the NCAA rejects that, Hoffman can still appeal the decision. That would be heard by an NCAA committee made up of representatives from different schools.
Thursday, Hokies coach Justin Fuente said he guessed the delay had to do with a tall “stack” of paperwork backed up at the NCAA.
Hoffman’s mother, Stephanie, underwent brain surgery to remove a non-cancerous tumor in 2017, just weeks after Hoffman enrolled early at Coastal in Conway, S.C.
Hoffman said she still struggles from that surgery, dealing with partial facial paralysis and damage to her hearing and eyesight. Tech’s Blacksburg campus sits about an hour closer to the family’s Statesville, N.C., home. That’s the reason, he said, that he transferred to join the Hokies.
Last week, the NCAA rejected the waiver application of another Tech player, Oregon transfer quarterback Braxton Burmeister. Burmeister will sit out the 2019 season and become eligible to play in 2020. Like Hoffman, he can still practice with the team.
While he waits, the 6-foot-3, 316-pound Hoffman, who started 24 games in two seasons at Coastal Carolina, has impressed his coaches with his leadership and ability.
“He’s a leader,” Vice said. “He brought it day one to that room, to that group throughout the summer.”
Tech has T.J. Jackson, Lecitus Smith and Austin Cannon, among others, working at the guard spots.
But Hoffman’s situation has presented Vice with a challenge at center. An available Hoffman would give Tech two experienced centers, Hoffman and returning starter Zachariah Hoyt. In the event of an injury to one, the Hokies would have a second option at the position.
But with Hoffman’s status undetermined, Vice has been on the lookout for another center, so he’s rotated a number of players in at the position to work with Ryan Willis and Hendon Hooker, who are now sharing most of the first-team practice repetitions at quarterback.
“I think in this camp I’ve had seven centers take snaps,” Vice said. “You know, in this profession, you’ve always got to prepare for not having this guy or that guy. You don’t want to be caught standing at the altar with nobody to say ‘I do,’ to.”
Note: Fuente said running back Cole Beck suffered a collarbone injury and will be out for an undetermined amount of time.