BLACKSBURG, Va. — Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente was upfront with Greensboro, N.C., native Hendon Hooker about the team’s plans at quarterback when Josh Jackson went down with injury.

The No. 24 Hokies turned to Ryan Willis when Jackson broke his fibula during a loss to Old Dominion. There was little drama when Fuente named Willis the starter for the rest of the season days later.

“We just have open conversations with those guys,” Fuente said.

Hooker spoke to journalists this week for the first time since the spring as the Hokies prepared to play Notre Dame on Saturday night at Lane Stadium. The quarterback declined to get into details about those recent discussions with Fuente but sounded upbeat about his place in the pecking order.

“I’m just getting ready for my time so whenever my number is called I’m ready to go in,” Hooker said.

Hooker played two snaps in Virginia Tech’s 31-14 win over Duke, carrying the ball both times for no gain. The highlight for Hooker this season was his 69-yard touchdown run late in the game against William & Mary.

“It was shocking,” Hooker said of the play. “I haven’t had a lot of breakaway runs in my career.”

Fuente left the door open for Hooker to get more snaps as the season progresses, but those plays won’t come from a specially designed package. The coach wants Hooker solely focused on learning Virginia Tech’s full offense — ”Hendon's not responsible for just a part of the game plan” — as the team’s backup.

“It's good for him to be prepared, to know that he could go in at any moment, probably keeps him in the game a little bit better just due to human nature,” Fuente said. “Knowing that you could be thrown in there at any second, but we'll take it on a week by week basis.”

With Virginia Tech down one quarterback for the rest of the season, Fuente underlined the importance of Hooker’s continued development.

“Having another guy ready to play is paramount,” Fuente said. “Getting those guys reps or work throughout the season and spring and fall camp and in a weekly preparation mode is incredibly important.”

Hooker went to Virginia Tech as a four-star signee out of Dudley High School. He put up 9,001 total yards of offense (6,027 passing) in high school with 103 touchdowns (55 passing). He redshirted last season as a true freshman, but Fuente doesn’t want Hooker to get discouraged by the limited playing opportunities.

“I just can't tell you how much improvement this kid's made in his time here,” Fuente said. “And it's not always that guys just pick it up immediately. Sometimes there is something to development and sometimes that thing is time.”

That time has paid of for Hooker, who pledges to do whatever Virginia Tech needs going forward.

“I’m going to prepare as if I’m the starter,” Hooker said. “I’m just trying to keep everything positive and be consistent.”

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