The Virginia Tech Hokies are tentatively scheduled to open the 2020 season on Saturday against the North Carolina State Wolfpack. Head coach Justin Fuente said Monday the Hokies hope to play, pending the results of the remaining COVID-19 tests this week.
Ahead of this weekend’s game, Virginia Tech released its first depth chart and revealed no major surprises, just perhaps a few minor ones.
To no one’s surprise, Hendon Hooker is the starting quarterback. Graduate transfer Khalil Herbert is the starting running back while Rutgers transfer Raheem Blackshear is right behind him. Blackshear will not play a traditional running back role as he’ll be split wide and in the slot, too.
Tre Turner, Tayvion Robinson and Kaleb Smith are the starting receivers. And James Mitchell is the top tight end. No surprises.
On the offensive line, Tech was expected to start Christian Darrisaw at left tackle, Lecitus Smith at left guard and Brock Hoffman at center. That’s how the depth chart read as well. Sophomore Bryan Hudson, who played a lot of center last fall, is listed as the starter at right guard, while another talented sophomore, Doug Nester, is listed as the top backup at right tackle.
At right tackle, Luke Tenuta is listed as the starter with Nester as the backup. At right guard, former starting tackle Silas Dzansi is the top backup.
I wouldn’t read too much into this as offensive line coach Vance Vice likes to move his guys around. It is encouraging to see Nester playing tackle. I would expect him to see the field quite often this fall. Dzansi is in the same boat as Nester. He should see plenty of time in 2020 as a former starter.
It’s nice to see the Hokies have depth on the offensive line that can actually play.
Defensively, no surprises up front. Graduate transfer Justus Reed has one defensive spot locked down, while Emmanuel Belmar starts opposite of him. TyJuan Garbutt would have likely started opposite of Reed but he is sitting out this reasons for family reasons.
The biggest surprise is true freshman Keonta Jenkins at rover. This was Devon Hunter’s spot until he was arrested last week. We’ve heard good things about Jenkins all summer. Another true freshman, Lakeem Rudolph, is Jenkins’ backup.
Armani Chatman will start opposite of Jermaine Waller at cornerback with Brion Murray and grad transfer Devin Taylor as the top reserves.
No surprises at the linebacker spots with Rayshard Ashby, Dax Hollifield, Keshon Artis and Alan Tisdale as the top four in the two-deep or at nickel with Chamarri Conner.
The depth chart will likely fluctuate from week to week due to COVID-19 and younger players ascending into bigger roles.
We are finally just days away.