Christiansburg police on Sunday charged Virginia Tech safety Devon Hunter with felony strangulation to cause wound or injury and misdemeanor assault against a family member.
According to jail records, Hunter was booked into the Montgomery County Jail on Sunday at 3:10 p.m., where he’s being held without bond until his initial court appearance.
The strangling charge is a Class 6 felony, while the assault charge is a Class 1 misdemeanor. A felony charge triggers an automatic suspension under Tech’s student-athlete code of conduct.
According to Virginia law, the felony is punishable with “a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than five years, or in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.”
The law defines strangulation of another as, “any person who, without consent, impedes the blood circulation or respiration of another person by knowingly, intentionally, and unlawfully applying pressure to the neck of such person resulting in the wounding or bodily injury of such person.”
The misdemeanor calls for a maximum jail sentence of 12 months and a $2,500 fine.
Tech announced Hunter was indefinitely suspended from the football team in a brief statement on Monday morning for “not upholding the high standards” the team has for student-athletes.
Coach Justin Fuente declined to discuss specifics regarding Hunter’s suspension in a press conference shortly after it was announced.
“Devon Hunter has been suspended indefinitely from all football team activities effective immediately for not upholding the high standards we have for our student-athletes,” the statement said. “We cannot comment further on Virginia Tech student conduct issues until the matter is resolved.”
Hokies spokesperson Pete Moris declined comment when asked about Hunter’s arrest.
“We can not comment per campus policy,” he said.
The 6-foot, 220-pound safety was one of the highest rated defensive recruits in program history when he signed back in 2017. Hunter had a role on special teams as a true freshman (he played in 10 games), but he bounced around the secondary going from boundary safety to whip and back.
He was expected to start this fall at boundary safety after spending the 2019 season as Reggie Floyd’s understudy at the position.
“He just has been a great leader, he has great work ethic, a great attitude and has really come along to be a guy that people look up to in the locker room,” Fuente said in August. “And our kids have a tremendous amount of respect for him, our coaches have a tremendous amount of respect for him. We can’t wait to get him out there and let him have some success, because he’s just been so great behind the scenes for so many years.”
Those comments were brought up to Fuente on Monday when he was asked if the situation involving Hunter was a surprising development.
“Yes,” Fuente said without elaborating.
Fuente was also tight-lipped about who might start in Hunter’s place, but he attributed that evasiveness to not having had those discussions with his staff yet. Tyree Rodgers, J.R. Walker and Keonta Jenkins are among the names in consideration. Rodgers is the most experienced of the group with 31 games played (three starts). Walker redshirted last year, but was singled out as a future playmaker by retired defensive coordinator Bud Foster.
Jenkins is a 6-foot-3, 194-pound freshman out of Jean Ribault High School in Jacksonville, Florida.
“To say all those things will be fluid is an understatement, continuing to cross-train guys, get guys ready. It’s a little early for me to make a call on that,” Fuente said.
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