Hokies Football: Top 3 Offensive Early-Impact Freshmen for 2015

National Signing Day 2015 has come and gone, and the Virginia Tech Hokies once again put together a solid recruiting class with 24 commits. The Hokies did a great job of recruiting players in the trenches with five offensive linemen signing with the Hokies and two already being on campus.

Right now, the Hokies do not have any wide receivers in this class though there is the potential for Coleman Fox to shift to a slot wide receiver role at some point. The Hokies are bringing in a couple of tight ends, but Virginia Tech’s tight end depth is too good for Xavier Burke and Chris Cunningham to get any playing time in 2015.

The Hokies also brought in two running backs, but it will be hard for them to get too much playing time as a freshman. Of course, they also brought in quarterback Dwayne Lawson who might just have the talent to earn the starting job this fall.

There will be room for a few players to make an early-impact so let’s take a look at those players.

3. QB Dwayne Lawson

Lawson is the best quarterback that the Hokies have recruited in a few years. Scot Loeffler did a great job of taking advantage of the emergence of Brad Kaaya at Miami to poach him from the Hurricanes, and get him to come to Blacksburg.

Lawson has great mobility out of the pocket while also having the speed to make plays with his legs on scrambles or designed quarterback runs and options. Lawson also does a good job of throwing passes with plenty of arc on it which will be valuable to throw it to the tremendously athletic Bucky Hodges.

Lawson has an above-average arm, and does a good job of throwing the deep ball as he showed some in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl. Lawson’s accuracy seems fairly solid though that is an area that just about any quarterback can always improve.

Lawson will be a starting quarterback for the Hokies at some point in the near future, but the fact that he is not here this spring hurts his chances a lot. Lawson is at number 3 because of the challenge he has to start, but he could shine if he wins the starting job.

2. OC Tyrell Smith

Tyrell Smith was originally committed to the Hokies as a part of the Class of 2014, but went to prep school for a semester before enrolling with the Hokies for the spring semester.

Smith seems to be a very versatile offensive linemen, but it was revealed yesterday that Smith would start out at center. Smith likely received a lot of playing time while at prep school which should help with his development as a center or guard depending on the situation.

Smith is a risky pick here at number 2, but with the center spot being open, Smith definitely is a contender to get the job. Eric Gallo seems like the starter of the future at center, but nothing is certain until the Hokies face Ohio State and Smith will definitely have a good chance to win the job.

Even if he doesn’t, he will likely be the backup center and someone that can rotate in at offensive guard. Smith’s development as an offensive linemen is likely farther along than most of the incoming freshmen and maybe some of the young offensive linemen on the roster which will help him a lot.

1. OT Austin Clark

Austin Clark is the best offensive line recruit that the Hokies have received a commitment from in years, and it will definitely show this fall. Clark was the Hokies’ top offensive recruit until they gained a commitment from Dwayne Lawson but like Lawson, the Hokies had to flip Clark’s previous commitment, in this case to South Carolina, to get him.

Clark is already on campus, and it would not surprise me if he is a starting offensive tackle on the Hokies’ first depth chart this spring. Clark is already a strong offensive tackle, but getting in a collegiate weight room should only make him more powerful.

Clark’s technique is also fairly good, and working with Stacy Searels should allow him to develop even more. Clark also has very good footwork, and does a great job of getting leverage against opposing defensive ends.

There is no doubt in my mind that Austin Clark will be the starting left tackle for the Hokies against Ohio State.

Jonathan McLaughlin and Wade Hansen both bring experience, but Clark is more talented than both of them and will be one of the top freshmen offensive tackles in the country next season. Austin Clark is ready to shine, and he will be starting at left tackle against Ohio State.

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