There are two category of Hokie Special Teams players; Specialists and Field personnel. There isn’t much point in going over the Field players. The blockers, rushers, returners, and cover guys are almost always top performing newbie bench players combined with well placed upperclass starters. It’s been Beamer’s habit since the 90’s, and that has not changed with the Fuente Era.
What is very important, though is the list and quality of the Specialists. The most important part of that is the loss to graduation of Joey Slye. Joey had his issues, but he gave his all on every play and still outscored a bunch of kickers. His problem with narrow misses to the right of the goal needed a real kicking coach, but his ability to bury the ball for touchbacks was gold when it came to coverage. The “best return is no return” attitude is a common thread in special teams in modern football.
There will be a wide open competition for Joey’s replacement, this Spring and Summer, though the Spring effort is largely situational practice. Presumably the guy with the inside track for the kicking job is Brian Johnson. He kicked in five games last season. He went 3-4 from the field with his longest being 30 yards. He kicked all 5 of his PATs so he’s got some quality work in. He’s supposed to be pressured by a new combo kicker/punter, Jordan Stout. He’s a former star soccer player from Southwest Virginia, and seemed to be good enough to letter in football, too. We’ll see how much work he gets, generally it’s field goal and PAT work for the Spring scrimmage, with punts being un covered and unreturned.
We have a new long snapper, Oscar Shadley, who is a true Freshman with no other players listed for the position. As the most important least known or understood person who handles the ball the Long Snapper is going to be something to watch.
Then there is our punter. Oscar Bradburn is returning this season with a solid bank of experience and a much better idea of what his role is in the offense and defense. Bradburn distinguished himself through last season with purpose executed variable distance punts, including Footie style ‘marks’ to gunners that negated any possibility of a return. I don’t know ife we’ll even see Bradburn much but he is going to be really critical this season, again. His ability to flip the field, and dictate the field position of the opposition set the stage for the defense.
Virginia Tech Hokie 2018 Special Teams
|93||Brian Johnson||-||K||6' 1"||182||rSo||Washington DC||Gonzaga|
|91||Oscar Bradburn||1||P||6' 1"||202||So||Sydney Australia||Sydney Secondary College|
|92||Jordan Stout||-||P/K||6' 2"||192||rFr||Honaker VA||Honaker|
|97||Oscar Shadley||-||LS||6' 0"||251||Fr||Naples FL||Golden Gate|
Even without the heavy work of the other players, the Spring Game will give us a peek at what to expect for the Fall. The Specialists are the most important players that no one pays much attention to. Until BeamerBall changes the momentum in a football game.