Over the past week, two of Virginia Tech's young talents (Yosuah Nijman and Joel Caleb) have changed positions. This is not at all uncommon in college football, but makes me pose the following question: Are position changes made in the best interest of the program or the player? Maybe, both?
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Nijman committed to Virginia Tech as a part of the 2015 class, but enrolled in January after spending his Fall semester prepping at Fork Union. The Hokies coaching staff saw him as either a big, power defensive end/tackle hybrid or an athletic offensive tackle. So, to begin the spring he worked with the defensive line and showed flashes of not only clogging up holes, but getting after the quarterback, but was ultimately overwhelmed with new terminology and techniques he would need to learn to be a truly effective pass rusher and run stopper. Thus, last week he switched to offensive line, which many think is an better fit with his body type and already developed skills. He has above average hands, good footwork, great size and a hell of a motor, which might make him a pro-type prospect a few years down the road. But, was this switch both good for Yosuah and the Hokies?
Currently, the Hokies do not have a solid 2-deep at defensive end and still decided to move a guy to offense who after six practices was really progressing on defense. Personally, I think he has a great future on offense, but I doubt he sees the field a lot this year at tackle. However, I was really excited to see him (with that 6-7, 280 lbs frame) help on a depleted defensive line that has talent in the first group, but absolutely no depth.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Hokies?src=hash">#Hokies</a> freshman Yosuah Nijman on his move from DE to OT: "My reaction was just being open minded and saying, 'Okay, I'll do it.'"</p>— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) <a href="https://twitter.com/RTD_MikeBarber/status/585592088177311746">April 7, 2015</a></blockquote>
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Joel Caleb is another story altogether. He was a highly rated athlete from Richmond, VA that played quarterback in high school, but was recruited as an athlete by the likes of Georgia, WVU, Ohio State, Florida State, Florida, etc. He chose the Hokies because he saw that he could make an impact at either running back or wide receiver with the Hokies. His freshmen year he redshirted as a WR; his r-freshman year he was moved to tailback, but saw limited action; his r-sophomore year he stuck with tailback, but was not really that productive; and not is back at WR. Why?
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This kid is a stud athlete and has a high football IQ, but Shane Beamer and frankly the whole staff can't seem to get the ball in his hands. One reason is that the running back position the last several years has been poorly managed. No top-tier football program has a running back by committee system that rotates 3-4 backs effectively with the same play packages. However, the Hokies have not been able to or just haven't put the ball in 1-2 primary ball carriers hands since David Wilson left in 2012.
So, to answer my question (and frankly it is the answer for just about anything): Are position changes made in the best interest of the program or the player? It depends.
Nijman will be successful at offensive tackle and probably will make more money there as a pro, which makes the move equally beneficial for both parties barring that Kendall Fuller isn't asked to play DE if one or two guys get injured.
But, with Caleb I am not sure. He is a great athlete and all-around good football player that should've gotten 10 touches a game last year in some capacity. Now that he is back at WR, I think that the position suits him better, but he has to get on the field and the quarterback has to get him the ball. In this case, it seems to me that the position changes have the potential to be beneficial for the program, but Joel, on a personal level, has been held back by these position changes and has been lost in the folds.
What do you think? We'd love to hear from you.