Two years after his college recruitment represented a veritable who's-who from the world of big-time college football, Scott County's Bryan Hudson is jumping back into the pool.
Hudson has entered the NCAA transfer portal, effectively ending his two years with the Virginia Tech program.
Tuesday's news – first reported by VT beat writer Michael Niziolek of the Roanoke Times – was a double-whammy for the Hokies.
Both Hudson and Doug Nester, a pair of four-star Class of 2019 recruits who turned down numerous programs with a stronger recent pedigree to sign with Virginia Tech, have elected to explore their options.
Hudson's name officially appeared on the portal Wednesday morning. He was not immediately available for comment.
The 6-foot-4, 310-pound Hudson, a versatile athlete who can play all five positions on the offensive line and has also earned state and national acclaim as a track and field athlete, should be a hot commodity in what is essentially college sports' version of free agency.
More than 20 schools, including Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Florida and LSU, extended Hudson a scholarship offer before he committed to Virginia Tech in April of his junior year at SCHS.
Kentucky and Louisville also were on that list. Loyalists to both programs were abuzz on social media Wednesday, wishing that their Wildcats and Cardinals would take advantage of their second chance to close the deal.
Louisville fans are hopeful that Hudson's family connections – older sisters Halee and Kadee attend the school – will play in their favor. Big Blue Nation, on the other hand, sees the impending graduation of Drake Jackson and Landon Young and possible entry of Darrian Kinnard into the NFL draft as leaving a gigantic void that Hudson would help fill.
Hudson initially cited Virginia Tech's game day atmosphere, as well as his comfort level with the campus and the coaching staff, for signing with the Hokies over his other heavy-hitting suitors. He also appreciated the school's stated support of his desire to compete in both NCAA Division I football and track and field.
His career started with a bang in the form of a brilliant freshman season. Hudson made his initial start against Furman at Lane Stadium on Sept, 14, 2019.
Taking advantage of an opportunity due to multiple injuries among Virginia Tech's veteran cast, Hudson made 10 consecutive starts at center – a position he'd played in high school only in special goal-line packages.
He fought through a broken thumb on his snapping hand during the final two games of that streak.
Three different quarterbacks took snaps from Hudson along the way.
Such an immediate splash from a first-year lineman is rare. Hudson and Nester were hailed as two of only 28 true freshmen in the country who played more than 500 snaps in the trenches during the 2019 season.
Virginia Tech rushed for an average of 184 yards per game and 17 touchdowns during one eight-game stretch. For his role in that success, Hudson was named two a pair of prominent freshman All-American teams by The Athletic and 247Sports.com.
In a sign of the puzzling season to come, however, Hudson was used sparingly in the Belk Bowl on New Year's Eve, a game won memorably by UK on a touchdown pass from Lynn Bowden Jr. in the closing seconds.
With a glut of returning players on the Virginia Tech line, younger players' time dwindled substantially this season. Nester started seven games at right guard. Hudson appeared in eight games with only two starts, also at right guard.
Virginia Tech finished with a record of 5-6 and voted as a team to withdraw from consideration for a bowl, ending a streak of 27 consecutive postseason appearances that was the longest in America.
The prevailing political winds of the day have removed much of the stigma and many of the complications for players wishing to transfer.
Prior to the development of the transfer portal in October 2018, only four percent of NCAA football players transferred at any point in their career.
Now, it's commonplace. Nearly 2,000 Football Bowl Subdivision players tested the waters in year one, In two previous postseason cycles since the portal was put in place, 28 Virginia Tech players completed the paperwork to enter the portal, with all but two eventually transferring to a new school.
Even bigger numbers are expected nationwide this winter due an unusual, one-time dynamic. In the aftermath of COVID-19, the NCAA has granted all fall, winter and spring athletes a free year of eligibility to account for all of this year's inconveniences and uncertainties.
That would put most players in a battle for their position facing the same in-house competition next year, not to mention the arrival of a new recruiting class.
Quarterbacks have been the notable success stories of the portal. Joe Burrow (Ohio State to LSU) and Jalen Hurts (Alabama to Oklahoma) took full advantage of their moves with prolific 2019 seasons, followed by NFL success in 2020. Justin Fields (Georgia to Ohio State) has enjoyed a similar upward trajectory.
Another impending move by the NCAA makes now an appealing time to switch schools. If the sanctioning body votes as expected in January to grant all athletes a one-time transfer exemption without the need for a waiver going forward, Hudson and others now in the portal would be eligible to play immediately in 2021.
In the past, athletes from revenue sports (notably football and basketball) have been required to sit out a year before suiting up for their new school.
Due to the extra allowance for COVID, Hudson will have three full years of college eligibility remaining.
Hudson received his initial offer from U of L as a high school freshman, when he started for Scott County from the get-go.
He was entrenched at left tackle during his sophomore, junior and senior seasons, a stretch in which SC reached at least the state semifinals in Class 6A each year.
Hudson was a two-way starter as a senior as the Cards reached the KHSAA title game for the fourth time in coach Jim McKee's tenure, losing to Louisville Male. He logged 10 quarterback sacks while paving the way to more than 4,000 rushing yards.
Scott County won 44 games and lost only 12 during Hudson's career.
In track and field, Hudson was one of the top shot put and discus throwers in his age group nationally. He won seven outdoor championships – four in shot, three in disc.