When Brent Pry took over as head football coach at Virginia Tech in December, he faced many difficult roster decisions. There are the lower-ranked recruiting classes in 2020 and 2021, multiple recruiting misses, or overcrowded positions such as running back.
Since then, Pry has done well to flip some of the roster. He signed his first recruiting class, added multiple players via the NCAA transfer portal and convinced a few key Hokies to return to Blacksburg for an “extra” year.
Linebacker Dax Hollifield said he was returning to Virginia Tech last fall, thanks to an extra year of eligibility due to COVID-19. Next, Pry needed to convince defensive back Chamarri Conner and offensive lineman Silas Dzansi to return to college for one more season.
Pry was successful as Conner and Dzansi joined Hollifield for one more season. Conner and Hollifield will return as key starters on defense, while Dzansi’s return is critical for new offensive line coach Joe Rudolph. Virginia Tech’s offensive line lost three starters in left tackle Luke Tenuta, left guard Lecitus Smith and center Brock Hoffman. Tenuta and Smith were drafted, while Hoffman signed as an undrafted free agent.
That meant Tech was returning two starters in sophomore guard Kaden Moore and Dzansi.
But where would Dzansi play? After all, he’s started games at both tackle spots and both guard positions during his Virginia Tech career. That type of bouncing around puzzled Rudolph. He sees Dzansi as the Hokies’ left tackle in 2022.
“He’s a guy that’s a little bit of a quandary to me, why he hasn’t been a regular starter,” said Rudolph, via Andy Bitter of The Athletic. “I think it’s probably more than anything just feeling confident. I anticipate him having a really good year. I anticipate him being a really good leader for us. We need that from him. I think he’s ready to embrace that in every way.”
Virginia Tech fans never understood former offensive line coach Vance Vice’s fascination with rotating the offensive line so often. That cost the Hokies a pair of former four-star recruits in Doug Nester and Bryan Hudson, who now start for West Virginia and Louisville, respectively.
Rudolph likes what he sees in Dzansi.
“I think he has an outstanding talent base,” Rudolph said. “I think he’s smart. I think he’s capable of doing anything I would ask him to do.”
Dzansi, at 6-foot-5, 325 pounds, always seemed destined to play left tackle. We wrote in 2018 that he looked like Virginia Tech’s future left tackle, but he was pushed to the right side by freshman Christian Darrisaw. Darrisaw turned out to be pretty good. huh?
Virginia Tech’s offensive line will have some question marks in 2022, but fans should feel confident in Rudolph. Rudolph has already hit the ground running, adding four offensive linemen to the 2023 recruiting class.
As for Dzansi, a good season from him, combined with his experience and size, could put him on the radar of NFL scouts, following Darrisaw, Smith, Tenuta and Hoffman to the next level.