BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech Director of Athletics Whit Babcock announced Tuesday that head football coach Justin Fuente has agreed to a contract extension that will keep him in Blacksburg through the 2023 season.
A consensus selection as the 2016 ACC Coach of the Year, Fuente guided the Hokies to 10 victories and a berth in the ACC Championship Game in his debut campaign at Virginia Tech. The Hokies concluded the season at No. 16 in both the USA Today Coaches Poll and The AP Top 25, marking Tech’s high finish in the final polls since 2010.
“Coach Fuente has exceeded our expectations in terms of how well he and his staff have embraced the winning tradition established by Coach Beamer at Virginia Tech, while adding their own distinct touches to enhance the legacy of our program,” Babcock said.
“Justin has set high expectations for our team in the classroom, in the community and on the field,” he continued. “I personally appreciate the way he exemplifies our Virginia Tech values and helps instill those attributes in our student-athletes. I have the utmost confidence in his ability to lead our program as he continues making a positive impact on our campus and in the lives of every individual associated with Virginia Tech Football.”
Fuente was also named the top first-year FBS head coach in the nation by the Football Writers Association of America, sharing that honor with USC’s Clay Helton in 2016. He became the initial coach to guide the Hokies to a bowl victory in his debut season as Tech’s overcame a 24-0 deficit in the Belk Bowl to register a 35-24 victory over Arkansas.
“My family feels incredibly blessed that I’m able to work at Virginia Tech and we’re able call Blacksburg our home,” Fuente said. “I am very appreciative for the leadership of Whit, Desiree (Reed-Francois), Dr. Sands and the Board of Visitors in making Virginia Tech such an attractive destination for a head coach and a staff. Their support, a talented and hard-working group student-athletes and an unbelievably passionate fan base were all paramount in helping us build on Coach Beamer’s winning culture.
“I’m also indebted to our coaching staff and support personnel for their continued loyalty and dedication,” he continued. “Our student-athletes know how invested our staff is in the success of our team and in helping them achieve their personal goals in the classroom, in life and on the football field. I’m excited that we’ll continue the work that we’ve begun at Virginia Tech for many years to come.”
The ACC’s youngest head coach and the fourth-youngest FBS head coach, Fuente oversaw an offensive resurgence for the Hokies in 2016 as Tech tied or broke 10 single-season offensive records, including points (490), total TDs (61), first downs (330) and total offense (6,223).
The Hokies also continued Tech’s tradition of being opportunistic on defense and special teams in Fuente’s debut campaign in Blacksburg. Tech’s defense ranked second among Power Five teams in third-down defense (27.3 pct.), fourth in tackles for loss (113.0) and fifth in opponent completion percentage (50.1) in 2016. Meanwhile, the Hokies blocked two FGs, one punt and a PAT in 2016, returning one of those blocked FGs for a touchdown. Tech also scored on an 87-yard punt return against East Carolina last season.
The Tulsa, Oklahoma native joined the Hokies after leading a remarkable resurgence during his four seasons as head coach at the University of Memphis. In 2014, after leading the Tigers to their first conference championship since 1971 and the most wins in Memphis history over a two-year period, Fuente was the unanimous selection as American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.
Regarded as one of the rising stars on the college coaching scene when he arrived at Virginia Tech, Fuente inherited a Memphis program that had compiled a 5-31 record in the three seasons (2009-11) prior to his arrival. He systematically brought the Tigers back to respectability and postseason prominence, leading Memphis to a 19-6 record in his final two campaigns.
Fuente joins men’s basketball coach Buzz Williams as another member of the Virginia Tech coaching fraternity with a longterm contract. Williams agreed to an extension in July 2016 that will keep him in Blacksburg through the 2022-23 season.