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2021 Virginia Tech season preview: Offensive line

Hokies lose talent here, but should still be good.

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Duke Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive line

Luke Tenuta: 6-foot-9, 322 (RS So.)

Lecitus Smith: 6-foot-3, 315 (RS Jr.)

Brock Hoffman: 6-foot-3, 310 (RS Jr.)

Silas Dzansi: 6-foot-5, 325 (RS Jr.)

Kaden Moore: 6-foot-3, 311 (Fr.)

Johnny Jordan: 6-foot-1, 303 (Sr.)

Tyrell Smith: 6-foot-3, 300 (GRAD)

William Jones: 6-foot-6, 297 (Fr.)

Bob Schick: 6-foot-6, 305 (So.)

Jesse Hanson: 6-foot-5, 207 (RS Fr.)

Danijel Miletic: 6-foot-3, 303 (Fr.)

Parker Clements: 6-foot-7, 292 (Fr.)

Noah Sage: 6-foot-3, 303 (Fr.)

Jack Hollifield: 6-foot-3, 271 (Fr.)

Derrell Bailey, Jr: 6-foot-6, 296 (Fr.)

Bryce Goodner: 6-foot-3, 303 (Fr.)

Griffin Duggan: 6-foot-5, 295 (Fr.)

Jonathan Kuhler: 6-foot-2, 293 (Fr.)

Tyler Smedley: 6-foot-2, 270 (Fr.)

Nikolai Bujnowski: 6-foot-1, 304 (Fr.)


Key Returnees: Tenuta, Hoffman, L. Smith, Dzansi, T. Smith, Hansen, Clements, Bailey

Key Departures: Christian Darrisaw, Doug Nester, Bryan Hudson, Austin Cannon

Top Newcomers: Moore, Schick, Jordan, Goodner, Hollifield


Starting five

Replacing Darrisaw at left tackle is a tough chore. Fortunately for Virginia Tech, Luke Tenuta is ready for the challenge. The massive Tenuta looks like a future NFL offensive tackle and handled right tackle with ease last season. Now, he switches sides, which will only enhance his appeal to NFL teams.

Lecitus Smith returns at left guard. One of the most unheralded players on the roster the last few seasons, Smith is a future NFL starter. He plays with power and still has the athleticism from his past days as a tight end. Smith is entering his fourth season as a starter.

Hoffman is Virginia Tech’s other top returnee. Much like Tenuta and Smith, Hoffman is another All-ACC performer. He can play all three interior positions and brings a sense of nastiness to the offensive line. Hoffman’s attitude was good for this group last season. The best offensive lines play like bullies on the field. That was the Hokies in 2021.

While the above three will start, any combination of Dzansi, Tyrell Smith, Moore, Clements and Jordan will start at the two other positions.

Moore is a true freshman who is already impressing coaches. It may be too soon to start him, but it will not be long until he gets his chance. Smith has been around forever and he has had a good summer. He could be the initial starter at right tackle.

Jordan is a transfer from Maryland who can play center or guard. The thought was he’d start in the spring, but he’s been outplayed this summer by others. Whether he starts or not, he brings much-needed experience and depth to the group.

Clements is another impressive young player. He’s big and moves well. Coaches hope his development follows the path of Tenuta’s.

Ultimately, I believe Dzansi settles in at right guard.


Outlook

Do I think this group will be as strong as it was in 2021? No. But I do believe they will still be one of the better units in the ACC. Offensive line coach Vance Vice is good. He may frustrate some with continued rotating, but unless you beat out the other guys, he is going to rotate you.

Once Darrisaw, Lecitus Smith and Hoffman established themselves, they were not coming out of the lineup. The rotating frustrated former four-star recruits Doug Nester and Bryan Hudson, who each transferred in the offseason. Nester’s transfer didn’t make a lot of sense as he would be penciled in as the unquestioned starter on the right side at either tackle or guard. Perhaps he just wanted to return to his home state of West Virginia.

Tenuta, L. Smith and Hoffman will be outstanding anchors in 2021. Dzansi seems to fit better at guard.

I believe Clements is a player to watch. Could he and Moore make a push for playing this season? You know Vice is going to get them some kind of action.

The Hokies have a nice mix of young talent here and some experienced starters.

The Hokies have three future NFL players on the offensive line, which should help them pave the way for another strong running game in 2021. However, I do worry about an injury to any of the top three. It would be hard for Virginia Tech to recover from losing Tenuta, Lecitus Smith or Hoffman.