This needs to be said, right up front and it might be the first time that it has been said in regard to the O-Line for at least five or more years; “I’m not really too worried about the Offensive Line this season.”
That’s what’s sort of “Odd” about this review. Hokie Nation, it isn’t the absolute SEC Alabama gut thumping best Offensive Line; but Vance Vice’s squad is something that Virginia Tech hasn’t had, a solid experienced mix of Seniors and underclassmen. Y’all saw that correctly. The 1’s and 2’s in Fuente’s O-Line Depth chart have quality players who can make a serious difference if they perform to the best of their ability.
2017 Hokie Offensive Line Roster
|57||Wyatt Teller||3||G||6' 5"||308||r-Sr.||Bealeton, Va.|
|64||Eric Gallo||3||C||6' 2"||295||Sr.||Richboro, Pa.|
|69||Yosuah Nijman||2||T||6' 7"||300||Jr.||Maplewood, N.J.|
|67||Parker Osterloh||2||T||6' 8"||326||r-Sr.||Williamsburg, Va.|
|74||Braxton Pfaff||1||OL||6' 5"||293||r-Jr.||Lynchburg, Va.|
|79||Tyrell Smith||1||OL||6' 3"||295||r-So.||North Brunswick, N.J.|
|61||Kyle Chung||-||OL||6' 3"||290||Sr.||Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.|
|66||Billy Ray Mitchell||-||OL||6' 4"||285||r-Jr.||Westwood, N.J.|
|77||Demetri Moore||-||OL||6' 6"||303||r-Jr.||Fairborn, Ohio|
|62||D'Andre Plantin||-||OL||6' 5"||295||r-So.||Norcross, Ga.|
|63||Daniel Bailey||-||OL||6' 3"||301||r-So.||Abingdon, Va.|
|65||Matt Christ||-||OL||6' 3"||274||r-So.||Sterling, Va.|
|68||Connor Kish||-||OL||6' 2"||280||r-So.||Oceanside, Calif.|
|70||Kevin Kish||-||OL||6' 2"||286||r-So.||Oceanside, Calif.|
|50||Patrick Kearns||-||OL||6' 5"||288||r-Fr.||Adairsville, Ga.|
|52||Austin Cannon||-||OL||6' 2"||302||r-Fr.||Mechanicsville, Va.|
|75||Zachariah Hoyt||-||OL||6' 4"||285||r-Fr.||Salem, Va.|
|76||Jarrett Hopple||-||OL||6' 7"||293||r-Fr.||Suffolk, Va.|
|56||T.J. Jackson||-||T||6' 6"||324||r-Fr.||Cumberland, Va.|
|60||Silas Dzansi||-||OL||6' 5"||310||Fr.||Woodbridge, Va.|
|Christian Darrisaw||-||OL||6' 4"||299||Fr.||Upper Marlboro, MD|
|Aiden Brown||-||OL||6' 3"||285||Fr.||Silver Spring, MD|
First, you will notice that the chart is sorted in an unusual order. I have listed the players in experience order, then class. This is important, because it immediately shows what I am talking about. The first six positions have upper classmen mostly in named positions and serious numbers of starts and time on the field.
Wyatt Teller has 30 starts in 40 games played. There seemed to be a few issues early in the 2016 season that kept him from starting at Guard for a couple of games. Though not many people are privy to the reasons, whatever was going on eventually evened out, and Teller made his presence felt in every game. He has been the only truly consistent run blocker for the squad. Teller proved to be a workhorse and rarely if ever was slowed down by much. He’s on watch lists this year, and is more than likely to attract some NFL attention at the end of the season. The team is going to need Wyatt to be focused and to avoid the down field holding calls that sometimes plagued him last season. Of course “Downfield” for a guard means that he’s getting there ahead of runners. That’s something special that many interior lineman lack; sneaky speed.
The heart of every Offensive Line is the Center. He has to have the best hands of the bunch. He’s got to have a two-hole knowledge of the offense at the hinge point. He has to have a quality relationship with the quarterback, and in Fuente’s offense he has to be able to pull, move to the point of attack, and read keys for accurate line audibles. Eric Gallo has 25 starts over his active three seasons on the field, and he’s played in 29 games. He’s matured through some tough struggles with the new offense last season. By the end of 2016, though Eric had become the undisputed starting Center, and ended up playing a quality game in the Belk Bowl. He’s the odds on favorite to start this season against West Virginia.
The Left Tackle position was nailed down by Yosuah Nijman very soon after he was moved to Offensive Tackle from Defensive End, back in the last year of Beamer’s team. Even then with that staff, it was obvious that Nijman had that magic combination of serious strength, excellent balance, and speed that is necessary for a blind side Tackle to possess. He’s played in 26 games over 2 seasons, starting every one of the 2016 games. I expect that he’ll be a mainstay on the left side of the line this season, as well. Nijman is a true Junior so there is hope for another season as well.
The right hand side of the line might be a little more volatile than the left. The Hokies are going to look for Parker Osterloh to step up big. He’s played in 26 games over three seasons but hasn’t started. He has put in time on the Special Teams squad, and played in 9 games last season. He’s got a challenge ahead of him for the right tackle position, perhaps even an occasional stint at guard.
Braxton Pfaff has played in 12 total games over three seasons. He’s been a regular sub over the last two seasons. He’s been at guard, mostly, and I expect to see his name on the list for Right Guard, this season. He’s got some serious work to do to make the starting lineup this season. The push will come hard for young Redshirts who have been sweating and grinding in the trenches for Coach Vice.
I expect Kyle Chung to cycle in and out of the Center or Guard positions. But there are also those new names to consider. The Kish brothers, Connor and Kevin, have had a good two seasons prepping and working. Neither has seen playing time so expect them to make a hard push to make the depth chart and take some sort of place on the field this season.
Tyrell Smith looks like he’s getting ready to make a step up into the depth chart. He played in all 14 games last season, so look for him on the depth chart, especially challenging for those more open starting positions on the right hand side of the line.
Silas Dzansi from C.D. Hylton High School in Woodbridge will be looking to make a big impression this fall. He’s 6’5” and 310 of potential Tackle, or a huge Guard. We’ll see how he does in the Fall, but he enrolled early and has been working with the coaching and training staff since Winter. I rather doubt that young Mr. Dzansi is going to be redshirted – which is a rarity in the line these days.
I expect Jarrett Hopple at a massive 6’7” and 324 to get some notice after redshirting last season. He’s going to know the offense and I expect that he’ll be getting some serious looks at that Tackle position for 2017.
The remainder of the players on the roster, not directly mentioned, is a list of quality players who will be contributing in some way. They have to, because the Offensive line is 85% of the run game and 60% of the passing game. If they don’t do their jobs well, the offense doesn’t move the ball. It’s really difficult to win a football game with no offense. Hokie fans know that from long and somewhat bitter experience. The Line needs to perform well this season. We have a short list of running backs, and the QBs are potentially good, but none are particularly large. Everyone is going to need the O-Line to be better this season than last.
Next in Line we switch over to the Defense to talk about #DBU and see what’s going to be shaking in coverage.
Are you concerned about the Offensive Line this season?
This poll is closed
Yes - I am always concerned our line is always shaky
Yes - But a bit more optimistic than last season
No - Not really. I’m more worried about the smoked turkey legs
No! Yes! Maybe! All three! It’s so confusing...