It’s game week. The Virginia Tech Hokies open the 2021 college football season on Friday when the No. 10 North Carolina Tar Heels come to Lane Stadium.
The Tar Heels, led by potential All-American quarterback Sam Howell, could be facing UNC at the right time. The Heels lost their top four playmakers from 2020 to the NFL in Javonte Williams, Michael Carter, Dyami Brown, and Dazz Newsome. Another item of note is UNC will be without veteran wide receiver Beau Corrales on Friday.
Now that it’s game week, we finally get an official depth chart from the Hokies to examine. Let’s take a look at both the offensive and defensive depth charts, courtesy of Andy Bitter of The Athletic, and we will close with a few thoughts.
Virginia Tech has released its Week 1 depth chart. Some quick observations to follow.— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) August 30, 2021
Most notable listing? Freshman Kaden Moore as the starting RG and Silas Dzansi as the starting RT. Johnny Jordan as backup C, though I'd expect him some at RG too. #Hokies pic.twitter.com/tCgAcqyztO
First, at running back, the coaches like all of the contenders and feel each of them will help the team at some point in 2021. Jalen Holston should lead the team in carries, but don’t count out Keshawn King having a major role. Blackshear will make his impact in the passing game.
Freshmen Da’Wain Lofton and Jaylen Jones have been impressive since arriving on campus. Lofton is the backup at slot receiver to Tayvion Robinson, while Jones is the top reserve to Tre Turner.
James Mitchell is, of course, the No. 1 tight end. Drake Deiuliis has continued to improve and is second on the depth chart with Nick Gallo. All three of these guys can play. Kaleb Smith is the other starter on the outside, with Jaden Payoute as the top backup. Is this the year we see Payoute break out?
On the offensive line, freshman Kaden Moore is your starter at right guard. He has blown away coaches this summer. Veteran Silas Dzansi will begin the season as the starter at right tackle. Don’t be surprised if offensive line coach Vance Vice rotates at these two spots.
Defensively, no surprises up front.
At linebacker, Dax Hollifield will start at his natural position of mike linebacker. Alan Tisdale starts on the outside. This is a good duo.
Devon Hunter is your starter at the boundary safety position. Nasir Peoples has had a strong camp and is pushing Hunter. It’s nice to see Hunter back in the lineup.
Keonta Jenkins looks like he could be the next great Virginia Tech defensive back. He had a good summer to surpass transfer Tae Daley. Chamarri Conner is your unquestioned starter at nickel.
Finally, at cornerback, Jermaine Waller is your starter on one side, while Dorian Strong and Armani Charman are listed as co-starters on the other side.
The Hokies and Tar Heels are scheduled for a 6 p.m. ET kickoff on Friday.