The big news from Virginia Tech Football Central.
The Depth Chart was published, today, at around 11:00, and there are some interesting changes in the mix.
It’s a PDF, so you need to make sure that you have your browser set up to read it.
What is interesting, are some of the changes, and a couple of mild surprises in the mix on both sides of the ball.
On the offense, it looks like Zachariah Hoyt is the starting Center, and he’s backed up by Tyrell Smith. Kyle Chung, might be a bit surprised, but it’s not really, since he’s being bumped out one position to Left Guard. This is actually a good thing. Chung hasn’t handled the ball in years, especially with the shotgun snaps. The move frees him up to concentrate on blocking technique. Hopefully Hoyt cuts down on two seasons worth of puzzling ball exchange issues.
It’s no surprise, we’ve been preparing for it all off season since spring, but Silas Dzansi is starting at Left Tackle, while Yosh Nijman has been move across the line to Right Tackle. It’s interesting that True Freshman Christian Darrisaw is at #2 LT. Braxton Pfaff is starting at Right Guard (sort of expected, here) and the truth is that we have some really good talent sitting in the #2 slots. With the pace of the offense, I suspect that the #2’s will be getting quite a bit of action, so it’s going to be interesting.
For the ‘skill’ positions we have some interesting shuffles. Both Chris Cunningham and Dalton Keene are listed as #1’s for Tight End. I suspect that this will be situational and we are as likely to see both of them on the field as not. We already know that Josh Jackson is the starting QB, but there is no clearly declared #2 QB on the chart. Ryan Willis and Hendon Hooker are both expected to be ready to go. That, again looks like it will be a situational choice. The three starting receivers are Hezekiah Grimsley, Eric Kumah, and Damon Hazelton. This is interesting if only because they are backed up by Sean Savoy, Tre Turner, and Phil Patterson, respectively. That’s pretty amazing as a battery of six excellent receivers.
There isn’t a list of running back by committee going on for carrying the rock. Deshawn McClease and Steven Peoples have been named as the “co #1’s” and the game time will probably be situational, again.
There aren’t too many surprises in the 1s and 2s, here, but there are some changes and some interesting naming conventions that suggest an emphasis change.
Jerrod Hewitt gets the first start at Nose Tackle, right off the bat.. good win for him. Vinny Mihota is still rehabbing his knee and won’t be 100% for a while. Maybe he ends up making the field regularly by mid-season.
It looks like Bud Foster is rearranging the Defense back configuration to the old 4-3-4/4-2-5 dynamic flip that he pulled off back in the Grimm era. (has Cody Grimm as an assistant to help Ladler with the job) He’s declaring a formal Whip this season. Khalil Ladler is ready to play, and provides a really dynamic talent who can switch between Whip and Extra-Rover techniques on the fly. He’s a bit on the light side, but he sees and reacts well. This defense is going to need a smart Whip. Devon Hunter and D.J Crossen are both listed as situational #2s
Divine Deablo and Reggie Floyd (sorry Reg... fat fingers) were both expected at FS and ROV, but the interesting move is Bryce Watts starting at Left Corner and Caleb Farley starting at Right, with Jovonn Quillen behind Farley. There is a serious amount of speed in this defensive configuration, and substitutions will not present a significant drop off in skill, if at all.
Both Devon Hunter and Dax Hollifield are #2s who will probably see action. The starting inside linebackers are the expected Dylan Rivers at OLB and Rayshard Ashby at Mike. Dax will be backing up Rivers, with Rico Kearney ready to go for Ashby.
It looks like everyone is winning on the Special Teams squad. Brian Johnson has won the place kicking job, but Jordan Stout proved to be the winning thumper for kickoffs. They’ll be backing each other up for opposing jobs. Oscar Bradburn is performing the Holder duties again, with C.J. Carroll filling in if need be. Stout is also backing up Bradburn at Punter (unseating Oscar was a serious long shot). Long Snapping duties go to Oscar Shadley and he’s backed up by a new roster add walk-on Sam DeLuke.
Kickoff Returns will be handled by Caleb Farley and Terius Wheatley. The chart says “or” but the smart money is on a rotation based on who’s feeling better. Punt returns are going to C.J. Carroll and Damon Hazelton. Both are proven and reliable at the job. Hazelton has the long speed, though. It will be fun to watch, he’s bound and determined to do Greg Stroman proud.
That pretty much wraps the “unofficial” depth chart (you have to love they way coaches cover themselves or maybe just placate those of us in the media who live for these sorts of mouse droppings) for 2018.