The first thought that came into my head was “what am I going to say?” The second was [insert crickets chirping sound] here. When it comes to receivers, Virginia Tech is blessed with some serious crickets chirping. Well, at least in most of the #2 and all of the #3 slots in the X, Y, and Z chart for the receivers.
We lost a tremendous amount of downfield talent in the 2017 NFL draft rush. None of early outs did particularly well in the draft pecking order, so there is a part of me that just wants to reach out and say “should have stayed for one more year under Fuente.” We’ll see how well things go, but NFL picks higher than the 3rd round are expendable and unless the player is lights out surprising, they usually end up pounding the practice squad bricks if they are lucky. The old joke is that NFL stands for Not for Long, and its only mildly funny because it’s mostly true.
Okay, all that is old water under a bridge that shouldn’t have been crossed, so we have what we have as a receiver corps. Well, we had what we had, and the Spring Roster might contain the evidence of the biggest move of the season. The depth at wide out is about the same as a kiddie pool on a hot day; just enough to get wet, but you’d rather not think of what’s in the water, besides water.
My second son always came to me with news that he’d rather not talk about by telling me, “well Dad, there’s good news and there’s bad news.” Then he’d fish for which one to go with first. The answer was always tell me the bad news, and don’t bother with the good stuff because it’s not going to make the downer any easier to take.
Well I’ll start with the good news, instead, and then we’ll pick through the stuff that we’d rather not have to consider.
2017 Hokie Receiver Roster.csv
|5||Cam Phillips||3||WR||6' 0"||199||Sr.||Laurel, Md.|
|86||C.J. Carroll||1||WR||5' 8"||167||r-Jr.||Olney, Md.|
|12||Henri Murphy||-||WR||5' 10"||175||Jr.||Pine Bluff, Ark.|
|39||Sean Daniel||-||WR||5' 9"||183||r-So.||Chesapeake, Va.|
|83||Eric Kumah||1||WR||6' 2"||210||So.||Woodbridge, Va.|
|8||Phil Patterson||-||WR||6' 2"||180||r-Fr.||Virginia Beach, Va.|
|30||Jordan Jefferson||-||WR||5' 8"||170||r-Fr.||Goochland, Va.|
|81||Samuel Denmark||-||WR||6' 0"||183||r-Fr.||Huger, S.C.|
|87||Bodhie Long||-||WR||6' 3"||200||r-Fr.||Richmond, Va.|
|Damon Hazelton||-||WR||6' 2"||207||r-Fr.||Baltimore, Md.|
|13||Caleb Farley||-||CB/WR||6' 2"||180||Fr.||Hickory, N.C.|
|88||Kalil Pimpleton||-||WR||5' 8"||153||Fr.||Muskegon, Mich.|
|80||Colt Pettit||1||TE||6' 3"||298||r-So.||Deshler, Ohio|
|85||Chris Cunningham||1||TE||6' 2"||236||r-So.||Jacksonville, Fla.|
|80||Casey Harman||-||TE||6' 3"||245||r-So.||Swords Creek, Va.|
|29||Dalton Keene||-||TE||6' 4"||225||Fr.||Littleton, Colo.|
|42||Cole Blaker||-||TE||6' 3"||200||Fr.||Narrows, Va.|
The good news is that Cam Phillips is coming back for his true senior year. Cam was the secret horse last season. Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges were the glory notes, but Cam was out there running tough routes and catching critical passes in just about every formation configuration that Coach Cornelsen could dream up. There were more than a few highlight reel catches in Phillips portfolio. The truth about Jerod Evans was that his passes often weren’t as on-target as they needed to be, and there was also that “one read and go” sort of ethos that made it necessary for a receiver to run a great route for the one chance to get the ball, and then catch it when it got reasonably close. Cam Phillips did that to the point where we began to notice that he was making the QB look better than he would have with a receiver less willing to fight for the ball.
Cam was also a star on the old “Pride and Joy” Squad, proving his Beamer Ball chops with a punt block in the big ECU revenge game.
The next obvious starter with experience is C.J. Carroll. I’ve stood right next to the young man, and suffice it to say 5’8” and 170-ish are a “hopeful “ numbers. Carroll does bring quite a few skills to the mix to make up for his obvious lack of size. Carroll is quick, and manages to get free on some seriously damaging routes under the coverage and between seams in the zone. I don’t know if Carroll will be an every down Z receiver, but he’s a great candidate for that sneaky second slot receiver, or as a primary slot receiver on a dig out toward the sideline at 12 yards.
I can hear those crickets warming up. I know it. I can, I swear. Because after C.J. Carroll there is only Eric Kumah with any game experience in the depth chart. Kumah was the highly recruited star receiver out of Forest Park High School in Woodbridge, VA. Kumah played in 13 games last season, from what I remember it was mostly Special Teams work, but for a true Freshman, that’s not too bad an opportunity. He has no real stats on any receiving work, and that’s why the Jiminy and the band are warming up. Kumah has exhibited some skill and talent, but the folks who have seen it aren’t telling about it. The reality is that his 1 in the experience column is a sort of gratis number for having appeared in 13 games during the 2016 season. Kumah has lots to prove this summer and fall. He has the makings of a #1 “Z” receiver, but the position will have to be won.
There are also players who made the field during a few games, Henri Murphy played in a few games, including the Belk Bowl where he returned two kicks for 59 yards. He netted 98 total return yards against Notre Dame, and five for over 100 against Clemson. Henri is expected to make a hard push for a position on the receiver chart, but he’s already made an impressive contribution in the return game.
Along with Henri Murphy, we have Sean Daniel, a redshirt sophomore who’s just about ready to start making his presence known. He got a chance to play in the Virginia game last season, catching a 6 yard pass, and running for 10 more yards. We’ll see if Sean Daniel has a taste for more contact. He’s got a chance as a player with game experience to make a further impression on the coaching staff.
There are two viable game experienced Tight Ends on the roster, Chris Cunningham played a mostly classic Hokie TE position catching six passes for 48 yards and that included 4 critical Touchdowns. Cunningham seems to be able to get free enough in the end zone to make a reliable scoring target. That’s really good experience to have, and we expect him to be the #1 on the TE cell of the depth chart. Colt Pettit will probably take up the #2 position on the Depth chart, but only because he’s mostly he was used as an extra Tackle last season. We’ll have to see what his pass catching skills are if he gets to do those sorts of things next season. The other receivers will all have to work to bubble their names into the minds and hearts of Hokie Nation, we have little to report on them besides their High School stats. Let us give them time, room, and a fair chance to compete.
The story of the fall roster is likely to be a sort of a surprise that was sprung on us at the Spring game in April. Caleb Farley played, as do many High School football players, both sides of the ball in his time in high school. His offensive time was marked at quarterback, and he was a relatively good one, but he was recruited as a defensive back. He redshirted last season, so we’ve only seen him on the field for the Spring Game. That was a serious sight, because Farley didn’t show up on the defensive roster. He showed up as a wide receiver, and based on more than a few plays and some action away from the ball, I rather doubt that Bud Foster and #DBU are going to get young Mr. Farley back. Caleb had solid moves, excellent hands and ball sense, and one other intrinsic thing that makes him the surprise add to the offensive mix for 2017, SPEED. We aren’t talking quick, like CJ, or long fast like Bucky or Cam Phillips. We are talking “has another gear we didn’t know about” FAST. My guess is that we are going to see much more of Mr. Farley on the “O” side of the ball, and I bet he is a player who makes a difference in a critical situation at least once or twice before the weather gets cold.
So, to wrap this all up in a tiny little bow, we should have a set of expectations that meet the inexperience but explosively talented bunch. We have an unknown quarterback throwing the ball to two experienced wide-outs and one experienced tight end. What could go wrong at this point?
Next up is the Running Back situation, which could best be described as “odd”.
What’s your best guess at the #1 XYZ roster?
This poll is closed
Phillips, Carroll, Cunningham
Phillips, Kumah, Cunningham
Phillips, Farley, Cunningham
Phillips, Farley, Kumah, TE plays extra Tackle this season.