Justin Fuente Could be Natural Fit if Hired by Arkansas

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SOUTH BEND, INDIANA – NOVEMBER 02: Head coach Justin Fuente of the Virginia Tech Hokies looks on before the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on November 02, 2019 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Justin Fuente has enjoyed success at both Memphis and Virginia Tech.

The former Tulsa (Okla.) Union quarterback has a coaching record of 58-41 including 7-3 with Hokies this season.

Virginia Tech didn’t start fast out of the gate this season standing at 2-2 after four games with losses to Boston College and Duke. However, since that time the only loss came at Notre Dame 21-20 on Nov. 2. They have had impressive wins over a very good Wake Forest team 36-17 and North Carolina 43-41 in six overtimes. They beat Georgia Tech 45-0 last weekend.

The Hokies will host Pittsburgh on Saturday and then close out the season at Virginia on Friday, Nov. 29. ESPN’s Football Power Index gives Tech a 58.6 chance of beating Pitt and only 33 percent against Virginia.

Fuente, who played at Oklahoma and then Murray State, was a talented quarterback at Union High School. His first head coaching job was at Memphis in 2012 when he went 4-8. He was 3-9 in 2013, but then was 10-3 in 2014 and 9-3 in 2015.

He left Memphis following the 2015 season for the job at Virginia Tech. He was 10-4 in his first season there in 2016. Among his wins was a victory over Arkansas in the Belk Bowl. The Hokies finished ranked No. 16 that season.

In 2017, he finished 9-4 and then was 6-7 in 2018. The Hokies lost their bowls in both 2017 and 2018. Fuente is 2-2 in bowl games having won the 2014 Miami Beach Bowl 55-48 over BYU while still at Memphis. They lost to Oklahoma State 30-21 in the 2017 Camping World Bowl and Cincinnati defeated them 35-31 in the 2018 Military Bowl. Memphis played in the Birmingham Bowl following the 2015 season, but Fuente left for Virginia Tech prior to the game.

Among his assistants are defensive coordinator Bud Foster who also coaches linebackers, James Shibest who has tight ends and special teams, Brian Mitchell, former NFL player, with the cornerbacks, Brad Cornelsen who is the offensive coordinator and works with the quarterbacks and some others known well across college athletics.

Fuente is known for his developing of quarterbacks. Some of the ones he has worked with are Andy Dalton, Paxton Lynch and Jerod Evans. As a senior at Tulsa Union in 1994, Fuente passed for 2,934 yards and 32 touchdowns. He was named the Tulsa World Player of the Year and The Oklahoman All-State Offensive Player of the Year. At Union, he passed for 6,104 yards and 65 touchdowns.

Arkansas is searching for a replacement for Chad Morris who was fired on Nov. 10.

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