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Virginia Tech Hokie Spring Football Game 2016: Roster Preview

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It's Spring Family Weekend in Blacksburg, and that means it's the Spring Football Game as the headlining main event. I guess we are now Maroon and Orange this season, instead of Maroon and White. There are other, bigger changes. Saturday will be Hokie Nation's first peek at the new era.

More excitement from Cam this season?
More excitement from Cam this season?
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

It's the last weekend in April and that means one thing in Blacksburg; preparations for Final Exams go into overdrive.   What final exams? What are those? Well, unless I miss my guess, the entire reason for the Spring Family Weekend is that it's a celebration of the close of the semester and school year for undergraduates.  You know those people who are actually toiling away writing papers, condensing notes, working the Koofer files for tidbits of information that might make the difference between passing or heaven forfend... (Well, we won't talk about that, will we?).

So there is this new tradition that cropped up some time on the ‘aughts' where the Spring Open House became a Spring Family Day which then got centered around the last big event of the Spring football practice session, the Maroon and White (oops Orange) Game.  I have been to every Spring game since 2009 (there was a bad weather cancellation out there somewhere) and the event has grown into a main focal point of a great day for students and their families.   It's also a great day for those of us football fans looking for one last glimmer of excitement before it all gets tucked away until mid-August.

This year's Spring game is a bit more important from a Hokie Football Fan perspective.  Not only are we looking at the potential changes for the depth chart in the fall, we actually have some new key players to see, and of course a new Head Coach and half of a staff to watch.

Let's look at the roster from a different sort perspective.  We have all seen the big grid on the Hokie Sports main site where all of the players are lumped in by number order.  Let's take a look at each squad quickly by something a bit more instructive, class order by position.

First, we look at the defense, note that there are very few Seniors of any type, redshirt or not.  We have exactly one experienced Defensive end, Ken Ekanem; and redshirt Sophomore Vinny Mihota is left with a nebulous descriptor of DL (Presumably for Defensive Line, not Disabled List).

Our Defensive Tackle depth is more like parking lot puddle with most of the recognizable experienced starters hovering around the Junior class, and only three of those folks.  That leaves five big(ish?) guys for 2 critical positions.  Maybe that's why Mihota and Hewitt are listed as such.  Maybe DL does a gray area between DT and DE?  We'll see if we can spot where they line up and play.

We have 13 Linebackers; at least they are listed as such.  All of the names, we have all seen, a good half of them have solid game experience and only Jonathon Galant has reached the last year of eligibility.  There is the same issue that always haunts Tech Linebackers; size and weight.  We are still a bit too short and a good 20 pounds light for the Mike position, though 235-240 will work pretty well for Backer.  We'll see how they get used and where Coach Foster puts them on Saturday.  It's going to be one of the most important positions for the defense to field next season.

We don't see too much in the way of potential holes, until we hit the Cornerbacks.  There is only one Corner listed with any field experience.  Brandon Facyson is the only CB with serious experience on the field, and baring any real health issues this season should pick up where he left off before the issues stared.  The other guys are largely promise and we'll just have to see how they rise to the challenge.

Spring 2016 Hokie Defense:

No.

Name

vl

Pos.

Height

Weight

Class

4

Ken Ekanem

3

DE

6' 3"

255

r-Sr.

43

Seth Dooley

2

DE

6' 6"

239

r-Jr.

11

Houshun Gaines

-

DE

6' 4"

231

r-Fr.

47

Darius Fullwood

-

DE

6' 4"

262

r-Fr.

94

Trevon Hill

-

DE

6' 5"

234

r-Fr.

96

Jimmy Taylor

-

DE

6' 3"

225

Fr.

99

Vinny Mihota

1

DL

6' 5"

270

r-So.

55

Jarrod Hewitt

-

DL

6' 1"

290

Fr.

95

Nigel Williams

3

DT

6' 4"

295

r-Sr.

60

Woody Baron

3

DT

6' 1"

275

Sr.

90

Dalton Roe

-

DT

6' 1"

235

r-Jr.

91

Steve Sobczak

-

DT

6' 1"

300

r-So.

98

Ricky Walker

1

DT

6' 2"

288

r-So.

51

Harry Lewis

-

DT

6' 0"

270

r-Fr.

97

Tim Settle

-

DT

6' 3"

344

r-Fr.

37

Johnathan Galante

1

LB

5' 9"

210

Sr.

24

Anthony Shegog

2

LB

6' 3"

212

r-Jr.

50

Jamieon Moss

2

LB

6' 2"

220

r-Jr.

54

Andrew Motuapuaka

2

LB

6' 0"

235

r-Jr.

56

Sean Huelskamp

2

LB

6' 1"

207

r-Jr.

18

Raymon Minor

-

LB

6' 2"

221

r-So.

53

Trent Young

1

LB

5' 10"

212

r-So.

44

Carson Lydon

1

LB

6' 2"

237

So.

49

Tremaine Edmunds

1

LB

6' 5"

236

So.

58

Zack Treser

-

LB

6' 4"

221

r-Fr.

61

Joe Koshuta

-

LB

6' 2"

240

r-Fr.

92

Matt Reinhart

-

LB

6' 2"

225

r-Fr.

48

Mikey McDonald

-

LB

6' 1"

200

Fr.

22

Terrell Edmunds

1

ROV

6' 1"

201

r-So.

36

Adonis Alexander

1

ROV

6' 3"

197

So.

23

Der'Woun Greene

2

FS

5' 11"

194

r-Sr.

6

Mook Reynolds

1

FS

6' 1"

184

So.

17

Jahque Alleyne

1

FS

6' 1"

175

So.

19

Chuck Clark

3

DB

6' 1"

204

Sr.

3

Greg Stroman

2

DB

6' 1"

170

Jr.

39

Tyrone Thornton

-

DB

5' 10"

190

r-Fr.

28

Curtis Williams

-

CB

5' 9"

167

r-Jr.

31

Brandon Facyson

2

CB

6' 2"

191

r-Jr.

35

Erikk Banks

-

CB

5' 10"

173

r-Jr.

42

Elisha Boyd

-

CB

6' 0"

175

r-So.

27

Shawn Payne

-

CB

6' 3"

185

So.

29

DuWayne Johnson

-

CB

6' 2"

180

r-Fr.

9

Khalil Ladler

-

CB

5' 11"

178

Fr.

The Offense is going to be largely recognizable in personnel, if not scheme and form.  The biggest loss due to expired eligibility was, of course, Quarterback.  Michael Brewer's replacement is probably the biggest priority for Coaches Fuente and Cornelsen.  So far, the competition look like it's being led by Jerod Evans.  He has a real challenge ahead because he's learning a new offense, a new school, and a new level of competition.  With Chris Durkin moving to Tight End, the identification of a backup QB looks like the next big priority.  Given the lessons of broken collar bone disappointments, the Hokies are going to need a solid backup.  The number 1 and 2 positions in the QB depth chart are both likely to play next season, so there is no shame in being #2 this time.

The key to the entire offense might be the Quarterback, but the engine, the anchor, the muscle, and the flow are dictated by the big men on the line of scrimmage.  This year, Tech has 21 offensive linemen in camp.  Six have serious game experience.  The big issue will be how to fill out the depth and get the newer players solid game time.  We only have two seniors, Conte and McLaughlin.  That means Coaches Fuente and Vice have an opportunity to build depth and experience since the underclass is spread pretty evenly.   This Spring will be "setting the table" for a critical two deep in the Fall.  I doubt there will be may true freshman to make the active roster in August, so this part of the grid might be relatively solid for the 2016 season.

Tech's running back situation looks solid, as long as knees and ankles hold out.  There are no upperclassmen on the roster with McMillian, Williams, and McKenzie leading the experience column but topping out at redshirt sophomore eligibility.  McMillian is looking to improve upon his 2016 numbers, and both Williams and McKenzie are looking to better establish themselves and stay healthy.

The running back corps is led by Sam Rogers from the Fullback position.  His role on the team is obvious as a Senior and regular starter he's going to be a natural leader; but how he fits into Fuente's new offense is going to be important.  Rogers played more of an H-Back role last year, floating around the formation as a 2nd Tight End.  He also did some feature back work when the ranks of the starting tailbacks depleted.  It will be interesting to see what his new role will be.

The Tight End ranks are running a bit thin, which is a tad worrisome, but only a ‘tad'.  Bucky Hodges is back, and we will see how Coach Cornelsen uses him.   Hodges' last two seasons he operated more as a huge, fast slot receiver than a classic Tight End (that being done by the graduating Ryan Malleck).   Chris Durkin has taken Bucky's path and transitioned from Quarterback.  His role scopes out to be more traditional, but scouting him at the game is going to be interesting.  The Fuente offense didn't seem to have a huge tight end focus during his TCU and Memphis tenures.  We might get a hint as to how they'll be used this season.

The Wide Receivers still feature the three familiar names from last season.  Ford, Phillips, and Newsome will probably be the starting X and Y of the first formations that we see.  With the new pass friendly offense we might even see three of them on the field together as a test case.  The remainder of the wide out corps is inexperienced, and five are serious candidates for redshirts, with perhaps the exception of Eric Kumah who had some serious college level talent coming out of High School.   Again, as with the Tight Ends, we'll be looking closely at how the receivers are used in this one.

Spring 2016 Hokie Offense:

No.

Name

vl

Pos.

Height

Weight

Class

72

Augie Conte

3

OL

6' 6"

303

r-Sr.

71

Jonathan McLaughlin

3

OL

6' 5"

292

Sr.

57

Wyatt Teller

2

OL

6' 5"

304

r-Jr.

61

Kyle Chung

-

OL

6' 4"

290

r-Jr.

67

Parker Osterloh

1

OL

6' 8"

336

r-Jr.

64

Eric Gallo

2

OL

6' 2"

297

Jr.

77

Demetri Moore

-

OL

6' 5"

305

Jr.

58

Colt Pettit

-

OL

6' 4"

298

r-So.

63

Andrew Moras

-

OL

6' 0"

259

r-So.

66

Billy Ray Mitchell

-

OL

6' 4"

286

r-So.

74

Braxton Pfaff

-

OL

6' 5"

295

r-So.

69

Yosuah Nijman

1

OL

6' 8"

298

So.

62

D'Andre Plantin

-

OL

6' 5"

290

r-Fr.

63

Daniel Bailey

-

OL

6' 4"

296

r-Fr.

65

Matt Christ

-

OL

6' 4"

274

r-Fr.

68

Connor Kish

-

OL

6' 2"

280

r-Fr.

70

Kevin Kish

-

OL

6' 2"

280

r-Fr.

79

Tyrell Smith

-

OL

6' 3"

292

r-Fr.

52

Austin Cannon

-

OL

6' 3"

315

Fr.

56

T.J. Jackson

-

OL

6' 3"

330

Fr.

75

Zachariah Hoyt

-

OL

6' 5"

286

Fr.

12

Josh Jackson

-

QB

6' 2"

207

Fr.

4

Jerod Evans

-

QB

6' 4"

235

Jr.

11

Jack Click

-

QB

6' 3"

216

r-Fr.

9

Brenden Motley

2

QB

6' 3"

225

r-Sr.

2

Dwayne Lawson

-

QB

6' 6"

230

So.

34

Travon McMillian

1

RB

6' 0"

200

r-So.

42

Marshawn Williams

1

RB

5' 11"

239

r-So.

48

D.J. Reid

-

RB

6' 1"

240

r-So.

28

Shai McKenzie

1

RB

5' 11"

215

So.

16

Coleman Fox

-

RB

5' 11"

192

r-Fr.

33

Deshawn McClease

-

RB

5' 9"

177

r-Fr.

45

Sam Rogers

3

FB

5' 10"

228

Sr.

32

Steven Peoples

1

FB

5' 9"

218

So.

41

Trey Skeens

-

FB

6' 0"

215

So.

7

Bucky Hodges

2

TE

6' 7"

245

r-Jr.

13

Chris Durkin

-

TE

6' 4"

232

r-So.

80

Casey Harman

-

TE

6' 4"

240

r-Fr.

82

Xavier Burke

-

TE

6' 2"

270

r-Fr.

85

Chris Cunningham

-

TE

6' 2"

242

r-Fr.

20

Deon Newsome

2

WR

5' 11"

187

r-Jr.

1

Isaiah Ford

2

WR

6' 2"

190

Jr.

5

Cam Phillips

2

WR

6' 1"

198

Jr.

36

Alden Carpenter

-

WR

6' 1"

192

Jr.

39

Jaylen Bradshaw

-

WR

6' 1"

198

r-So.

86

C.J. Carroll

-

WR

5' 7"

165

r-So.

27

Ryan Palmer

-

WR

6' 2"

170

r-Fr.

29

Tyler Fitzgerald

-

WR

5' 9"

175

r-Fr.

15

Sean Daniel

-

WR

5' 10"

175

Fr.

30

Jordan Jefferson

-

WR

5' 10"

168

Fr.

81

Samuel Denmark

-

WR

6' 0"

182

Fr.

83

Eric Kumah

-

WR

6' 2"

203

Fr.

88

Divine Deablo

-

WR

6' 3"

210

Fr.

The Tech Specialist roster is small this season, and even with Joey Slye is back as the starting kicker, we have exactly one punter on the roster.  Michael Ludwig might get a real workout on Saturday.  Looks like Tech is going to be looking at the soccer team for some legs in the next few years.  It'd be a good thing to see Michael Santamaria kicking from the field, regularly, on this one.

Spring 2016 Special Teams:

No.

Name

vl

Pos.

Height

Weight

Class

46

Joey Slye

2

K

6' 1"

207

Jr.

35

Michael Santamaria

-

K

5' 8"

168

r-So.

93

Jackson VanSickle

-

K

6' 1"

205

r-Fr.

59

Eddie D'Antuono

3

LS

6' 7"

267

r-Sr.

87

Colton Taylor

1

LS

6' 1"

212

r-Jr.

54

Chaska Moon

-

LS

6' 0"

249

r-Fr.

89

Wright Bynum

-

LS

6' 4"

230

r-Fr.

90

Mitchell Ludwig

2

P

5' 11"

200

r-Jr.

In all, the roster for this Spring looks deeper and more experienced across the squads than it did for the last drizzle drenched but generally fun 2015 Spring offering.  It would be nice to get some good weather and a bigger crowd.

Coach Fuente and the new staff really need the support of Hokie Nation.  This is the simultaneous close of an old chapter, since these players are mostly Frank Beamer Era recruits; and an opening of a new way of doing things with a new offensive minded system.  We are going to need to pay attention to the fundamentals and how they are executed.  There are unlikely to be hugely sophisticated plays called.  The concentrations will really be on how the old players react to the new offense; how the Evans led competition for the starting QB role plays out; and how the revamped inexperienced defensive backfield works out.

It's going to be fun.  Gobbler Country will be in the Press Box at game time, and even though there won't be an "official game thread" we will be reporting live, from the game, via the comment section of a Game Day Post.

The kickoff is at 2:30 Saturday April 23.  Check with us for updates.

GO HOKIES!!!!

Sources: http://www.hokiesports.com/football/players/