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Virginia Tech football: Young players ascending into major roles for the Hokies

The Hokies are getting contributions from a host of first and second-year players.

Damon Hazelton’s touchdown in the South End Zone
John Schneider - SB Nation

One of the storylines entering the season was all of the young faces we’d see on Virginia Tech’s 2018 roster. The Hokies lost so much talent from last year’s team it was going to need big contributions from a host of freshmen and sophomores. That was why this team was so difficult to predict heading into the FSU game.

And while we’ve seen them for two weeks, we still aren’t quite sure what’s going to happen the next few weeks. But it is certainly nice seeing all of the young faces playing, and playing well for the most part.

At left tackle, the Hokies have used two freshmen: Christian Darrisaw and Silas Dzansi. And both have played well. That bodes well for the future of Virginia Tech. Vance Vice is doing big things with this group and the recruiting has picked up, too. John Harris saw time at guard yesterday. He’s also a true freshman. It’s rare you see a true freshman playing on the offensive line early in the season.

Silas Dzansi makes a great impression
John Schneider - SB Nation

At linebacker, Tech is loaded with youth. Sophomores Dylan Rivers and Rayshard Ashby start at linebacker, while true freshman Dax Hollifield is playing a lot. Also, redshirt freshman Rico Kearney and Jaylen Griffin have played, too. All have looked good. It’s so impressive to see a true freshman like Hollifield always know where to line up on every play in his second career college. This is going to be a special group with Hollifield leading the way.

Then there is the secondary. Caleb Farley and Bryce Watts were impressive in Week 1. Farley had some struggles in the win over William & Mary. He wasn’t bad, but he looked like a freshman playing his second career game at corner.

That’s not even including players like Devon Hunter, Khalil Ladler and Divine Deablo. On the defensive line, Nathan Proctor, TyJuan Garbutt, Emmanuel Belmar and Robert Porcher have all made plays. It’s easy to see why Bud Foster is giddy with his young defense.

Back to the offense, Hendon Hooker showed what he could do from under center with his 69-yard touchdown run. Terius Wheatley is looking like a real weapon for this offense as the coaching staff is employing him in a variety of ways.

Weatly had a good run to start.
John Schneider - SB Nation

These receivers are an exciting group brimming with big-time potential. Phil Patterson, Damon Hazelton, Eric Kumah, Tre Turner, Hezekiah Grimsley and Sean Savoy can all take over a game. Hazelton is a true No. 1 receiver with size and speed. The Hokies also have depth and talent at tight end with Dalton Keene, James Mitchell and Drake Deluliis.

It’s an exciting time to be a Virginia Tech fan. Head coach Justin Fuente is filling the roster with his guys and his vision for the offense is finally starting to take shape. There will be bumps in the road, that’s to be expected, but the future certainly looks bright and it’s been awhile since you could get this excited about both sides of the ball.