We are on the eve of the start of the 2015 College Football season with the Hokies only five days away from kicking off the season against the defending national champion and preseason #1 Ohio State Buckeyes in what is the most anticipated game ever at Lane Stadium.
The Hokies are in game-week preparations, and don’t currently have any battles still going on for a starting spot. However, there are a couple of freshmen that could break into the starting lineup this fall.
After enrolling early, Yosuah Nijman made the move from defensive end to offensive tackle with Nijman not being a good fit on the defensive side of the ball. Nijman quickly climbed the depth chart to being a second-string offensive tackle by the end of spring ahead of some fairly highly-rated recruits including four-star OT Austin Clark.
Nijman has been pushing for a starting spot over Wade Hansen with Nijman being the starting left tackle and Jonathan McLaughlin moving to right tackle if Nijman earns a starting spot. Nijman has only practiced at left tackle and the Hokies see him as the long-term left tackle with McLaughlin having the versatility to be on either end of the offensive line.
Nijman is one of the best athletes that Virginia Tech has gotten on the offensive line in the last several years. Nijman was rated as a four-star recruit largely due to his tremendous frame at 6’8” and athleticism. Nijman still needs to add some more weight to his current 273 pounds, but Nijman is making progress in bulking up and getting stronger.
However, Nijman’s athleticism has allowed him to start pushing Wade Hansen for a starting offensive tackle spot. Nijman should only get stronger as the season goes along, and has a lot more upside than the hard-working, former walk-on Hansen.
Yosuah Nijman is going to be a very good left tackle for the Hokies, and that time may be as soon as this season with Nijman having the potential to force Jonathan McLaughlin to right tackle and take Wade Hansen’s starting spot.
On the other side of the ball, Adonis Alexander was another player that enrolled early and is reaping the benefits as someone that will have a role on the team in some capacity this fall, avoiding a redshirt.
Alexander is now the backup at rover, and has allowed the Hokies to move Donovan Riley back to cornerback though Riley likely would replace Desmond Frye before Alexander would in case of injury right now. However, that could change over the course of this season.
Alexander is a tremendous athlete that Bud Foster has compared to Kam Chancellor as he has similar size, speed and athletic skills to the former Hokie and Pro Bowl safety. Alexander is still more of an athlete right now than a football player, but the sky seems to be the limit on his potential.
Alexander is starting to show some development in his coverage skills and his instincts around the line of scrimmage. Foster and the Hokies know that Alexander is a player that could be a rapid developer, and definitely seems to have a much higher ceiling than Frye.
With Adonis Alexander’s athleticism, and more time in the system; it seems like a matter of time before he takes the starting rover job. Alexander seems certain to be the starting rover in 2016, but that happening at some point in 2015 also seems possible depending on how quickly he develops his football instincts and all-around defensive back skills.
Yosuah Nijman and Adonis Alexander both have very bright futures and will be starters next season for the Hokies. However, their time in the starting lineup may be coming sooner rather than later.