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Virginia Tech Hokie 2023 Roster Review: The Big Picture

Bryan and John begin the roster breakdowns with their observations of the big picture before drilling down into the squad detail. It’s going to be a challenging season for this revamped 2nd year staff, and veteran team. Lots of changes in the future, but 2023 is now. GO HOKIES!!!

Spring Practice meant something huge, we got up close to the practice action.
John Schneider - SB Nation

It’s that time! Roster Reviews are here, and things are looking a bit different from prior lists. The first thing that everyone should notice is that we aren’t pushing out the entire roster that has been published… We are linking to the Hokie Sports Page and will have individual position rosters posted up for our breakout articles, but this one has a major issue. As is usual for college football programs, it’s just too big to load into a readable document.

First, the Numbers

This season there are 112 players listed on the 2023 Football Roster. The average for the seasons that I have covered has been in the 110 to 115 range so that’s not particularly unusual. With 85 available scholarships (NCAA limited as a normal requirement) that leaves 27 walk-on players who are under some other arrangement for their participation.


There are 12 “old guys” on the roster. That’s Redshirt Seniors (and above) exercising their final years of eligibility. There are 8 true Seniors who are technically exhausting their eligibility either this year or next depending on their COVID year status. That makes 20 total players with full term experience in the program. Some are not starters or scholarship guys and end up being practice squad members, but with a total of five years in program during most normal periods, 20% of a roster being Seniors is a good number for the steady churn.


There are 9 redshirt Juniors and 6 true Juniors listed on the roster. That might be the most eye-opening number because that’s just a bit on the light side for a class of players that normally forms the playing core of the average team. We’ll note the details in the position breakouts, but 2024 is going to be a “smallish” class on Senior Day. That does limit future scholarship openings and we’ll be monitoring the situation as the 2024 season progresses, but it’s not all that important just yet.


There are 25 total Sophomores listed, with 19 of those being redshirts (academic Juniors). This is actually a solid number because of their playing time and status. Remembering that Juniors are the heart and soul of every football team, having 19 academic Juniors with 3 total years of football program experience. With the transfer portal a looming threat, and the realities of eligibility limits, this might be the most heavily ‘re-recruited’ class if the season doesn’t produce individually satisfactory playing time. It is also the first class likely to see big changes to the ACC, or Tech’s membership in the conference.


There is no telling what’s going to happen with the Freshman class. It, by far, is the largest group of players with a whopping 50 players in the locker room. There are 28 true Freshman and 22 redshirts. This cohort will form the bulk of the cohort that forms the 2025-27 football teams. How many stick? How many players transfer out, and how many actually shine is going to be a major question? The main reality is that more than half of this football roster has little to no collegiate football experience, and that is going to be a major factor for several seasons. Pry’s presser at the ACC Kickoff emphasized the nature of building his roster from the ground up with the idea that the player needed to fit in the culture of the team not that the money for NIL or other influences were primary. Ideally that’s what every good coach wants, whether or not this group can stick to that philosophy.

Virginia is Well Represented

There are 53 players from the Commonwealth of Virginia listed for the Fall schedule. That’s nearly half the team and should put to rest some of the “local” recruiting complaints that have flowed in over the past decade or more. Even in the late Beamer Era, the Tech dominance in Virginia recruiting had begun to fade as top tier programs like Ohio State, Penn State, Alabama, Clemson, etc. took notice of Frank’s private recruiting grounds. Brent Pry promised a return to the emphasis on recruiting and developing instate talent. The 2nd year of Pry has the cupboard loaded with players from the Old Dominion.

Bryan’s Take on the 2023 Setup:

It’s Young...That’s for Sure

One quick glance at Virginia Tech’s 2023 roster, and two things stand out: First, the amount of first and second-year players on the roster. Secondly, it’s the new faces. Head coach Brent Pry knew he needed to flip the roster. He was busy in the NCAA transfer portal, adding potential impact players across the entire roster, including quarterback, running back, wide receiver, offensive and defensive line, and in the secondary.

One of my biggest complaints last season when the Hokies were losing games early in the season was, why not play the younger players? Pry did end up going to some of the younger players. My theory is if you’re going to lose, lose with young players who will improve. And if they don’t improve, then you can hit the portal.

I like where the roster is currently. The talent is definitely upgraded from one year ago. I do have some concerns with the offensive line. Do we have enough depth? Can any of the young linemen contribute this season if needed?

How many more wins do the Hokies get with an upgraded roster? It’s a great question. Virginia Tech will be better in 2023; that’s certain. So much depends on the quarterback and offensive line.

John’s Take:

The Three-Star Reality and Challenge

There isn’t going to be a big bunch of fooling and fiddling on this one. Not one player in the core positions is more than a solid three-star performer. Ali Jennings is a legit four-star grade, but receivers need arms to deliver packages.

The Offensive Line has already taken a hit and we’ll talk about the probable loss of Jesse Hanson when that article comes up, but this season’s offensive line is pretty much what was developed over the last three seasons, and of course two were under the prior regime and last season was problematic to say the least.

The “two-quarterback” answer and such given by Pry for the ACC Kickoff is worrisome. It tells old football fans that he really isn’t quite happy with anyone, and choosing between the top two is not going well.

Added to that indecision, those sorts of compromise systems work until the novelty wears off, and then they fail massively. The other issue is the reality of what it says. The QB room is not consistent in playing style, player physicality, and capability. Those inconsistencies show themselves very quickly in seasons.

The Offense is barely scratching the bottom of the three-star barrel, and just having an average effort with a modest level of success after struggling and floundering around will be a step in the right direction.

The defense is not as much of a worry, but it is also young in critical places. The Defensive line finally has a bit of 2-deep thickness, and the secondary seems to be decently covered, though there are a few players who need to be better than they were last season. The wildcard is going to be the linebacker corps and how it ends up being used. Most of the players are relatively new faces, and most of the action is going to be in that critical middle of the field.

If the Hokies manage a major momentum shifting winning season, and that’s not normally a tall order but it has been over the past five seasons, Pry might be well on his way to re-establishing a presence for Virginia Tech in the Top 25. There are just a whole lot of ifs laying on the field. This season will be won or lost by three-star players and coaches still working out how they want to deploy those players.

The ODU game is going to tell us a whole lot.

First Deep Dive Up? Well, for me it’s the Offensive Line, given the Hanson loss, it’s going to be different than we thought, already. Bryan is either doing the Receivers or the Quarterbacks.

Stay with us, August is upon us...