Do the Hokies have a new starting left tackle? Well, if we are to go by what’s actually happening on the field this spring, then, yes, we do.
Redshirt freshman Silas Dzansi has been working at left tackle throughout the spring and if that sounds surprising, it is. Senior Yosuah Nijman has started at left tackle the last two years and held down the position well. While Nijman wasn’t first-team All-ACC, he was solid and continued to improve. So, to see him moving over to the right side is a bit of a shock because if there was one position on the offensive line we thought was settled heading into spring, it was left tackle.
Head coach Justin Fuente tells us he is just trying to get the five best linemen on the field. And that’s what he should be doing. But why not try Dzansi at right tackle? It’s intriguing and we should take it as Dzansi is standout out rather than Nijman is struggling.
Fuente spoke specifically about Dzansi earlier this week, per Andy Bitter of The Roanoke Times.
Dzansi is obviously a very athletic kid who plays hard and has picked up the schemes pretty well. He’s just one of those guys who, the first day of offseason that he showed up a year ago, could hardly make it through the workout. And has just worked every single day to continue to get better.
When Dzansi left high school, he was just 242 pounds. He also wasn’t highly recruited. So, he spent a year at Fork Union, a favorite of Virginia Tech, and gained nearly 60 pounds of muscle. He impressed coaches during his year at Fork Union and throughout his redshirt year in 2017.
Now, he stands 6’5” and weighs 312 pounds. He isn’t your typical freshman as he’s three years removed from high school, so Dzansi starting in 2018 is a strong possibility. The coaches certainly see his potential.
Nijman probably isn’t happy about switching sides before his senior season, as left tackles are the ones who get paid in the NFL. However, starting at right tackle doesn’t hinder his future. In fact, we don’t even know that he plays right tackle in 2018.
What we do know is the coaches are serious about Silas Dzansi making an impact on the offensive line and that’s a wonderful thing for the future of Virginia Tech. Offensive line struggles have been an issue for at least a decade now, but with younger players stepping up and recruiting efforts paying off in the trenches, things are finally looking up again.