One year, the Hokies were coming off a season that included the breakout success of two true freshman wide receivers, Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips. Hokie fans knew they had the top-end wide receivers that had been lacking for a couple seasons, but questions were raised about whether someone could step up and provide some depth behind the duo.
One player that many fans were intrigued by was Jaylen Bradshaw who redshirted during the 2014 season. Many wondered if Bradshaw was going to be an under-the-radar gem as Frank Beamer and his staff had gotten many times in the past as someone that had only received 6 offers with Virginia Tech being the only one from a power 5 conference.
However, Bradshaw and the rest of the backup wide receivers struggled to step up and Virginia Tech basically used only two true wide receivers last season with Ford and Phillips plus Bucky Hodges being used outside some. In addition to that, Virginia Tech focused heavily on recruiting wide receivers and gained four wide receiver commitment including three who enrolled early.
Entering this spring, any spotlight that was on Jaylen Bradshaw last spring is gone but the pressure is greater than it has ever been if he wants to make it with the Hokies.
With Samuel Denmark, Eric Kumah, and Divine Deablo on campus; Bradshaw needs to have a good spring with all indications being that Justin Fuente is prepared to give the freshman wide receivers playing time in the fall if their the best of the group battling for playing time behind Phillips and Ford. Bradshaw will also have to adapt to a new offense though the change might not be as hard for him as it is for someone like Deon Newsome who has been in the program even longer.
For Bradshaw, the time is now if he is going to claim playing time as Kumah, Deablo, and Denmark all are quite talented wide receivers that can make an early impact and may even start the spring ahead of Bradshaw on the depth chart. The good news for Bradshaw is that behind Ford and Phillips, the wide receiver depth chart should be fairly wide open with the new staff, but that also means that his age and time in the program won’t mean much of anything.
Bradshaw does have decent size, speed, and athleticism for the position but the trio of early enrollees all have standout qualities with Kumah having great size and some solid wide receivers skills, Denmark having great speed, and Deablo having tremendous size and athleticism. Bradshaw will have to become a better athlete and will have to develop into a more mature wide receiver than the early enrollee trio.
Jaylen Bradshaw has the potential to be a surprise this spring and that is exactly what he is going to have to do if he wants to earn playing time with the Hokies. If not, Bradshaw’s Virginia Tech football career will likely be near its end.