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Virginia Tech Hokies 2016 Roster Preview – Receivers

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Gobbler Country takes a look at the Virginia Tech 2016 Receivers and sees some potential greatness but mostly promise. There are lots of Freshmen who will need to step into roster roles instead of redshirts.

Not much doubt about who's number 1...
Not much doubt about who's number 1...
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 Virginia Tech Hokie receiver corps could be compared to a loaf of French bread.  It's crusty and chewy on the outside and vague undefined stuff that needs butter on the inside.  This isn't to say that the underclass list is subpar.  What it means is that it needs some help to get it to where it needs to be.

The wide outs' experienced portion of the roster is solid, dependable and actually arguably the best starting group on the entire team.

Isaiah Ford -€” true Junior, a few of you out there might remember the old early 1960's advertising campaign.  "Is there a Ford in your Future?"  As far as cars go, some of us are ‘Ford' people, and some of us aren't.  But as far as receivers go, Hokie Nation is also Ford World.  Isaiah Ford is bumping on some serious watch list doors.  He's garnered national attention and I have few doubts that there are agents out there drooling at the prospect of getting him into the draft as soon as possible.  Ford runs crisp, smart routes.  He's not afraid to cross the field and grab the tough balls in traffic.  He can fly if the package calls for it, and when he catches the ball, the play is rarely over.  Many are the times we have seen him catch the ball and instantly convert from fleet footed flanker into a grind it out tailback.  You have to love a receiver who is willing to put his nose into the tough stuff.  It is going to be interesting to see how he fits into the Fuente offense.  Last season's 1164 yards and 11 touchdowns made an impression. His upside is stratospheric, and his downside is that he might be so good we don't have him for his senior year.

Cam Phillips -€” true Junior, Cam might be the #2 wide out, but with nearly 600 yards and two touchdowns last season he's got an important role to play.  The world is going to be covering Ford.  That makes Phillips' job even more important this season.  Yes, it's going to be a new offense, but the defensive coordinators out there are going to be watching the last two seasons' films to see what happens downfield.  They will be worried about Ford.  Which then means that Phillips, who has good hands, excellent body control, and good size, will get some seams and bubbles between and under the zones. Fuente's past tendency to promote the ‘spread the ball around' sort of checkdown discipline, I look for Phillips's role to increase.

There is going to be a serious competition beyond the top two receivers on this year's roster.  Deon Newsome had what best can be described as a less than optimal year in 2015.  He's going to need to step up.  There were some seriously good appearances put in this Spring by several receivers, but most notably Divine Deablo.  C.J. Carroll played some snaps in the Spring Game.  We will see how many redshirts are handed out this season.  There are probably going to be slots on the active roster for true Freshman and the competition for them is going to be interesting.

2016 Virginia Tech Wide Receiver Roster:

No.

Name

Exp

Pos.

Height

Weight

Class

38

Alden Carpenter

-

WR

6' 1"

192

Jr.

1

Isaiah Ford

2

WR

6' 2"

190

Jr.

5

Cam Phillips

2

WR

6' 1"

198

Jr.

89

Devin Wilson

-

WR

6' 4"

190

Jr.

39

Jaylen Bradshaw

-

WR

6' 1"

198

r-So.

86

C.J. Carroll

-

WR

5' 7"

165

r-So.

20

Deon Newsome

2

WR

5' 11"

187

r-Jr.

29

Tyler Fitzgerald

-

WR

5' 9"

175

r-Fr.

15

Sean Daniel

-

WR

5' 10"

175

Fr.

88

Divine Deablo

-

WR

6' 3"

210

Fr.

81

Samuel Denmark

-

WR

6' 0"

182

Fr.

30

Jordan Jefferson

-

WR

5' 10"

168

Fr.

83

Eric Kumah

-

WR

6' 2"

203

Fr.

8

Phil Patterson

-

WR

6' 2"

185

Fr.

The outside of the line is the really difficult one to talk about.  The Tight End position has traditionally not shown up for much in the Virginia Tech offensive mélange.  There have been some seriously wasted talents who deserved some better consideration and experience.  Greg Boone comes to mind, but Ryan Malleck was a very good athlete who deserved a bit more of an appearance in the offensive play calling.

Chris Durkin -€” redshirt Sophomore, is inexperienced at the position because, he was on the roster as a Quarterback for two seasons.  Durkin moved outside so that he could play.  He's big, his appearance in the Spring Game was largely quiet, but he's the underclassmen with the most team experience, and the closest presence to that classic Tight End position that was played by Ryan Malleck.

Burk, Cunningham and Harman are all completely unknown quantities since all are right out of redshirt status.  There will be a serious competition for slots 2 and 3 in the 3 deep.

Okay, so why didn't I mention Bucky?  Well I know he's huge (both in size and reputation) and he's listed as a tight end.  I have yet to see where Bucky Hodges should ever be a classic tight end.  He's not Heath Miller, Jason Whitten, or Doc Walker.  He's more like a huge, fast slot receiver who is big enough to survive dense traffic and tall enough to be a clear target even when he's covered.  Bucky reminds me of Shannon Sharpe (at least his playing style) and Antonio Gates.  He's not necessarily afraid to bock but he's better used beyond the line of scrimmage getting free to get critical yards and points.

Bucky Hodges -€” redshirt Junior, He's an H-Back more than a Tight End.  He's a potential game breaker inside and under the zone, and his talents need to be used better this season.  The last two seasons have seen Bucky appear more as a moving target wide out.  Maybe his season he'll be used more.  Both of his prior seasons have been relatively balanced with each other at right around 530 yards, but his target to completion ratio is just too low.  Much of that has to do with the low percentage routes and throws that he has been expected to adjust to.  Bucky would benefit by getting into places where his height, arm span, and size would help the situation.  Sending him out on deep out fly patterns, downfield out routes, deep crossing patterns might sound great, but there are other receivers for that sort of pattern.  Modern offense needs the big guys on the edge to run digs and rubs for that fast sub 3 second 5 to 8 yards.  Bucky will be attracting next level attention for that sort of work, but his draft numbers won't look good until he's actually getting those sorts of routes and targets.

2016 Virginia Tech Tight End Roster:

No.

Name

Exp

Pos.

Height

Weight

Class

7

Bucky Hodges

2

TE

6' 7"

245

r-Jr.

13

Chris Durkin

-

TE

6' 4"

232

r-So.

82

Xavier Burke

-

TE

6' 2"

270

r-Fr.

85

Chris Cunningham

-

TE

6' 2"

242

r-Fr.

80

Casey Harman

-

TE

6' 4"

240

r-Fr.

No one is fooling anyone at this point.  The Receiver roster is deep, yes, but it's also inexperienced.  The receiving corps is one place where the Freshmen, because there are few redshirts coming in, are going to be pushed hard to step up.  There is only a one deep in experienced receiving on the wide side.  The Tight End position, has no "traditional" TE type experience, and the likely role of Hodges as more of an H-Back or huge slot receiver supported by the backfield (Sam Rogers being the other interesting potential of having a two receiving tight end formation).

Coach Fuente's offensive plans are going to hinge on the passing game to set up the running game -€” in the scheme there must be an equal threat to do either on any given down.  The starting receivers are capable.  Their backups are going to have to step up, because they will play, and we will hear about them.  Let it be us cheering for a big play or critical first down from a true Freshman who just impressed the college football world.

There isn't much point in projecting a Depth Chart for the receivers.  Fall practice is going to dictate the 2 and 3 slots for each position.  Suffice it to say that X and Y are Ford and Phillips.  Z is stacked for Bucky or Rogers, or even both if there is something interesting going on.

Defense Comes Next.  Lots to talk about... lots...


GO HOKIES!!!!