The Virginia Tech Hokies knew they had something special in Keli Lawson from the moment he committed in June 2020. Lawson committed to the previous coaching staff, and they had the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder from Sherando High School in Stephens City on the offensive side of the ball at wide receiver.
That was in 2021, Justin Fuente’s final season as head coach. When Brent Pry took over as head coach for 2022, one of his first personnel moves was getting Lawson back on defense. Lawson would play in eight games at linebacker for the Hokies in 2022, recording 23 tackles, including three for loss, a sack, and an interception, which he returned for a touchdown.
It was in Tech’s final three games that everything clicked for Lawson. He had 16 tackles, three for loss, a sack and the aforementioned interception in the last three games, exciting everyone about his potential in 2023.
Noted college football writer Bruce Feldman of The Athletic recently released his annual list of the top 100 athletic freaks in college football. The Hokies have had numerous players on Feldman’s list over the years. Lawson made the 2023 edition, coming in at No. 19.
One of the gems of the Hokies’ 2021 signing class, Lawson flashed some of that potential in his debut season last fall, making 23 tackles and also had an interception. Tech is hoping he can take another big step in 2023. The 6-5, 220-pounder with an 82-inch wingspan’s athleticism is intriguing. This offseason, Lawson broad-jumped 11-2, hit 39 inches on the vertical and clocked a 4.6 40.
Lawson has the potential to be a high NFL draft pick. His combination of length, size and athleticism make him an intriguing prospect. The scary part is he’s just begun putting everything together. Don’t be surprised if Lawson is an All-ACC performer in 2023.