Spring football has arrived for the Hokies and their first scrimmage is this Saturday at 10:45am in Lane Stadium. The Hokies haven’t had many practices just yet, but there are multiple position battles that may even be decided this spring depending on if certain players really impress this spring. However, there is no doubt that the spring can be a chance to gain the lead in the pursuit of playing time at a certain position.
Now, let’s take a look at the three biggest offensive position battles of the spring.
3. Slot Wide Receiver
Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips are definitely going to be the starting wide receivers if they stay healthy next fall. The Hokies also are loaded with talent at tight end with the impressive trio of Bucky Hodges, Ryan Malleck, and Kalvin Cline. However, the Hokies could use some depth at wide receiver and a really good slot wide receiver.
Coleman Fox is the only incoming recruit that may move to wide receiver, but this position battle shouldn’t see much of a change from the arrival of the Hokies’ newest commits in the summer.
The depth chart shows that the early leader may be Kevin Asante who is the backup wide receiver behind Isaiah Ford. Demitri Knowles is also right at the top of the hunt as he is currently the other backup wide receiver behind Cam Phillips.
Both Asante and Knowles are not big receivers, but fit the profile of a slot receiver that can be fairly productive and do some damage all over the field. Knowles and Asante are both redshirt seniors, and will definitely have a desire to earn a lot of playing time in their final season in Blacksburg.
Deon Newsome and Charley Meyer are two under-the-radar guys that should make this interesting, but Jaylen Bradshaw is the unknown that could surprise a lot of people this spring. Bradshaw was redshirted last season, but there have been some suggestions that Bradshaw could be a player that shines this spring.
Right now, Demitri Knowles seems like the safe pick to take the slot receiver role due to his impressive season and past success, but Asante and Bradshaw will be ready to make a strong challenges to get a lot of playing time this season.
2. Offensive Tackles
The interior offensive line seems fairly set with Wyatt Teller at left guard, Augie Conte at right guard, and Eric Gallo at center though Tyrell Smith could push Gallo some this spring. However, the offensive tackle position seems fairly wide open entering this spring.
Jonathan McLaughlin was injured for much of last season, and struggled because of his injuries. However, McLaughlin is now healthy and already the top offensive tackle on the depth chart for Stacy Searels as the starting left tackle. McLaughlin seems poise for a bounce-back junior season and is likely to start at one of the two tackle spots.
Wade Hansen is currently listed as the starting right tackle, and has made some improvements since making the transition from defensive tackle to offensive tackle. However, Hansen will definitely be challenged by two players in particular.
Darius Redman was unlikely to get any playing time at tight end in his final season so he made the transition to offensive tackle with the hope of earning a starting job. Redman has the size for the position at 6’4”, 285 pounds, but the question has to be where is he in terms of development at offensive tackle.
Austin Clark was one of the top players to commit to the Hokies from the Class of 2015 and being on campus now gives him a chance at being a starter in the fall. His bench press number was disappointing, but Clark is a player with great size and some solid technique already. Clark will have a lot of work to do this spring, but has the potential to end up starting at left tackle against Ohio State.
McLaughlin seems certain to have one of the two starting offensive tackle spots with Clark, Redman, Hansen, and Parker Osterloh battling for the other offensive tackle spot. However, this battle will not be settled before next fall and McLaughlin shouldn’t feel safe about having a starting offensive tackle spot to start the 2015 season.
There is no doubt that the biggest position battle for the Hokies this spring is at the quarterback position. However, no one should be expecting a resolution to who will be the Hokies’ starting quarterback for 2015 before fall practice, but the spring will definitely be a chance for guys to make some moves and put themselves in good position to get the job.
Chris Durkin and Andrew Ford both redshirted last season and now are the looking to get themselves into the hunt for the job. Ford is ahead of Durkin right now, but Ford is the number 3 QB currently and Dwayne Lawson has the talent to move ahead of Ford and Durkin very quickly to challenge for the starting job depending on how the spring goes.
Durkin and Ford may end up with the chance to be the starter for the Hokies at some point, but whoever ends up behind the other of these two may want to start considering a transfer if he is to get a chance to play.
The main battle for the starting quarterback job this spring will be between Michael Brewer and Brenden Motley. On the first depth chart, Motley and Brewer were listed as co-first string quarterbacks, which was the biggest indication that Brewer is entering this spring with a very small lead that can be easily be overcome.
Injuries cost Motley a chance to win the starting job last season, but Motley will be ready to lay the groundwork to win the job for the 2015 season. Motley has less experience, but his mobility is something that can’t be underestimated despite how Brewer had some impressive scrambles last season.
Motley has more upside than Brewer does, but Motley also is more of an uncertainty than Brewer. Brewer can be inconsistent, but the Hokies have a lot better feel for what Brewer can do. Brewer also has the experience that could be very important in some big games next season though his inconsistency is a major concern.
The battle for the starting quarterback job won’t be decided this spring, but Motley and Brewer both have chances to make strong statements for the job before the arrival of Dwayne Lawson this summer. Meanwhile, Andrew Ford and Chris Durkin will look to play their way into contention for the job.