Virginia Tech Bhayshul Tuten adds: How do RB transfers affect Hokies football?

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Virginia Tech got more transfer work done Friday before the start of the new semester, flipping the gate belonging to Bhayshul Tuten, who was previously committed to Boston College.

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Tuten was a third-team FCS All-American last year at North Carolina A&T, where he ran for 1,363 yards and 13 touchdowns and caught 31 catches for 342 yards and four more touchdowns .

The Paulsboro, NJ, native, who originally committed to Boston College on Dec. 24, was one of 30 finalists for the Walter Payton Award, given to the most outstanding player at the FCS level. He is a junior with two years of eligibility remaining.

What does Toten bring to the Hokies?

He was a baseman for the Aggies last year, holding it 208 times. The last Hockey to reach 200 carries in a season was quarterback Jerrod Evans with 204 in 2016. The last tailback to do so was Travon McMillan in 2015.

Totten had seven games with 15 or more carries last season and caught the 100-yard rusher 10 times, including a 256-yard effort against Campbell. He had several touchdowns in six games and proved to be an effective pass taker, albeit at a lower level.

Although the Hokies have question marks on the offensive line, which didn’t quite excel last fall, Tuten has proven to be a tough runner, with his 904 rushing yards coming after contact, according to Pro Football Focus, the fifth-most in FCS. His 74 missed tackles tied the force for fourth nationally and he had 42 passes of over 10 yards.

Keshawn King led the Hokies with 238 yards after connecting and forced 19 lost tackles. The Hokies have had 43 carries of over 10 yards as a team.

How does the running backroom stack up with Tuten?

Running back was one position that Hokies head coach Brent Brey highlighted when talking about his transfer needs on signing day. Overall, the Hokies had the 113rd-ranked rushing offense nationally, averaging just 110.8 yards per game.

With Malachi Thomas injured for most of last year, Virginia Tech has never had a running back for more than 443 yards from the King’s. King averaged 6.0 yards per carry, the only Tailgate to top 4.0, but he was frequently snapped, missing two games outright and limited to just one carry against Miami.

Thomas, the team’s most promising running back after emerging as a freshman in 2021, struggled with multiple ankle/foot injuries, one in the preseason and one at NC State, that limited him to just three games, 37 carries, and 146 yards.

Jalen Houlston, who had a career game in the Final against Liberty with 99 yards and three touchdowns, had exhausted his eligibility. Chance Black (2.8 per carry) and Bryce Duke (3.3) had sluggish productions in limited opportunities.

Toten and Thomas would be a good 1-2 puncher on the court, with King, who has been injury-prone in his career, perhaps more effective if hockey used him more situationally. He’s the most explosive runner on the team, but only once has he had more than 13 carries in a game—last year’s opener against ODU, when he carried it 19 times for 111 yards. He only had 10 carries in the next three weeks after suffering an undisclosed injury against Boston College.

What does this do for numbers in RB?

It’s swollen again. Bray and company have reduced an unwieldy cubicle that had 10 scholarships in it when they arrived last winter to six by the time August began.

As it stands now, the Hokies have eight straight scholarship holders — King, Totten, Thomas, Black, Duke, Kenji Christian and 2023 signees Jeremiah Cooney and Tralon Mitchell. This is probably too much.

Some are versatile enough that they can help hockey in other ways. Duke, who had shortstop work last year, has played a lot in kick returns, and both King and Black have taken on delegates as receivers before. But with the first transfer portal window closing next week, it wouldn’t be surprising to see an entry (or two) from the running back room.

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(Photo: Ben McKeown/AP)

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