Looking forward to football season and ways that the site can be improved, I want to respond to a recent FanPost from Gobbler Country's FanPost sidebar entitled Whatever Happened To Nick Dew. I would like to have a weekly mailbag (depending on the number of submissions obviously) for our readers in which our editors answer fans' questions (as best they can) about anything pertaining to Virginia Tech athletics. If you would be in favor of this and like to participate, please let us know in the comments section.
So whether you're curious to know why Nick Dew has struggled to get much PT, just an avid Hokie fan who appreciates a good read about Virginia Tech football, or a complete stranger who stumbled onto our site, this one's for you! All your Nick Dew questions will be answered after the jump.
First off, I want to thank vthokie18 for the post. I think it's a relevant and worthwhile question to delve into. After all, Nick Dew is one of the most highly-ranked players, according to recruiting sites, on the team. Dew was ranked as a 4-star prospect by two major services, and was ranked 63rd and 201st overall nationally by ESPN and Rivals respectively. Scout.com did not rank him nationally, but had him as a high 3-star prospect and ranked him as the nation's 39th safety prospect. Scout appears to have been the closest to predicting his collegiate production to date. They did however laud him for his blitzing ability and closing speed.
The reason for concern is that after two full years in the program, Dew has played a total of 216 snaps (187 on Special Teams) and contributed only 7 tackles. This was a surprise to Hokie fans for several reasons. 1. The attrition suffered at the Whip spot during the 2011-12 season left Nick Dew as the heir apparent to the position mid-season, but the coaches actually had so little faith in him that they had all-everything Kyle Fuller playing the position or a hybrid of it. 2. Many Hokie fans saw Dew's highlight tape or heard the hype about the player who "might have the chops to start immediately." But as we all know, freshman are almost always redshirted at Virginia Tech, except for a select few (until recently). Beamer's recipe for success has relied on leadership and experience, something incoming freshmen rarely posses. Thinking that Beamer would consider handing a job to a true freshman on a 2010-11 team many thought could contend for a national championship just isn't realistic.
Now onto vthokie18's post. If you're too lazy to click the link to the post provided before the jump, or you just don't want to keep switching back and forth between tabs, no worries, I've embedded his post below.
"Nick was the only ESPN 150 recruit we picked up in his recruiting class, one major analyst named him one of 6 players that would have the biggest impact in college going into the scheme he was. Since arriving at Tech he has been stuck as a 3'rd string defensive player. If you go back and look at his High School videos the kid was a monster on the field. This means one of two things either his football IQ and technique are just not very good for the college level, or he has a major lack of determination which would be a shame.
Look at how good VT is when developing 2 and 3 star high school players, just imagine how good we could be if we had the chance to develop more kids with 4 and 5 star potential. Next offseason is going to go along ways to determining how relevant we are going into the 2014 season.
I don't see a national championship run happening in 2013, but if the coaches can keep all of their juniors around for their senior season (I know thats a major stretch of the imagination) we will be completelly loaded come 2014 and with a kickoff game against BAMA that would be an awesome thing to happen. So I don't care what they have to do but I think the coaches need to pull all the ropes in keeping Logan Thomas, Kyle Fuller, James Gayle, JR Collins, and Antone Exum out of next years draft.
That being said the state of VA is ABSOLUTELY loaded with talent in the 2014 recruiting class including the potential #1 and #2 players in the nation, the entire top 10 may be included in Rivals top 100 come signing day if we can maintain the juniors we have go in and beat BAMA in the opener and make a run at the NC in 2014 bring in 6,7, or 8 of those top players from the state then the sky is the limit for what we can accomplish in the years to come.
One Last Note to Kendall Fuller: Blacksburg is ready for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
vthokie18 is right about Nick from high school. He was a PHENOMENAL talent and one of our best gets of the 2010 recruiting class. As for his lack of production/being buried on the depth chart, and our concerns about him, I think it could be best explained by three potential causes. So, here I go:
1. Athleticism as a gift and a curse- As we've seen with highly-ranked guys like Dew (Cris Hill and Stephen Friday come to mind), sometimes those players whose ranking/game is predominantly based on athleticism, it takes longer for them to adjust to the collegiate game. I know most fans would think players with that level of athleticism would tend to have increased odds of getting on the field earlier, and in most cases that is absolutely true, but some players have coasted to that point on athleticism and haven't really had the need to develop good technique (as vthokie18 mentioned above).
Remember that different players have different development schedules. Some come in right away and are ready to star. But even in the examples I am about to give, please remember all three took redshirt years. Michael Vick's, Ryan Williams' and Darren Evans' are the exception to the rule. The two players I mentioned above are at the opposite end of the spectrum. Both Cris Hill and Stephan Friday ended up making contributions at the end of their careers, but it took them four years to be significant contributors. While it's not written in stone that Nick Dew is destined for that same "fate", it is certainly a possibility.
2. Buried on the depth chart- This is really a two-parter. For one, Dew just happens to play the position which is the deepest (numbers-wise) of any position on the team. Secondly, Dew, much like Friday who bounced back and forth between linebacker and defensive end, started as a Rover before being moved to Whip. The Whip position is hard to learn, and whenever someone is learning a new position, there should be an expected learning period. Whether Dew has exceeded that period is up for debate. But for sure, those who simply jump in and excel at a new position immediately are not the norm. So I don't know that it's Dew's football IQ, but maybe it's more of Dew's football IQ relative to the Whip position. There is no other position in the sport like it, so the learning curve is steeper.
3. Expectations- As a result of his lofty recruiting rankings and his athletic ability, perhaps we're expecting too much too soon out of Nick as a fan base. After all, he is sandwiched behind two rising seniors at a position that is relatively new to him. It is completely conceivable that Nick will be the starter next year once the two players in front of him on the depth chart are gone. Who knows? I know I sure don't.
The final answer to your probably lies somewhere in between his lack of production/impact to date and Hokie fans expecting too much. We certainly aren't the most forgiving fan base. While Nick may not have lived up to our expectations to date, his performance this year can go a long way in letting us know what kind of player Nick is going to be, or if he'll even finish his career with the Hokies.
As for vthokie18's comments about the 2014 recruiting class, I agree, it is loaded, and the state of Virginia is once again very strong. I hope to start covering that class in more detail sometime during the season as the 2013 recruiting class takes shape and ultimately as it wraps up. Gobbler Country will also have plenty of coverage for the class of 2013 between now and then, so make sure to keep checking in with us here at GC to get all your Hokie sports information.