Hokies Football: Which Virginia Tech Freshman Will Play or Redshirt in 2016?

Next week is the beginning of Virginia Tech’s second summer session of classes which also means that the rest of the Hokies’ current freshman class will be arriving. Many of these incoming freshmen will end up redshirting this fall but there will definitely be a few who will get some playing time this fall one way or another.

With that said, let’s break down the odds of incoming freshman playing this fall or not.

Nearly Certain Redshirts (<.1% chance of playing)

  • QB Joshua Jackson
  • OT Thomas Jarrett Hopple
  • OT Patrick Kearns
  • OT TJ Jackson
  • DT Jarrod Hewitt
  • DE Jimmie Taylor
  • DB Tyree Rodgers

Joshua Jackson and Jimmie Taylor both arrived this spring but Jackson and Taylor both seem very unlikely to get playing time and avoid a redshirt even if Jackson played well against backups and third-teamers in the Spring Game.

Thomas Jarrett Hopple, Patrick Kearns, and TJ Jackson all are headed for a redshirt most likely with a Virginia Tech offensive line two-deep that has quality depth right now. Jarrod Hewitt is coming in at a position of great depth for the Hokies and is headed for a redshirt while Tyree Rodgers is somewhat of an unknown but seems very likely to also redshirt.

Likely Redshirts (1-33% chance of playing)

  • LB Emmanuel Belmar
  • DB Jovonn Quillen

Emmanuel Belmar came close to being a toss-up but Belmar may be going back and forth between linebacker and defensive end this fall as the Hokies try to determine his position, hurting his chances of playing early.

Jovonn Quillen is gifted athletically and definitely could be a guy that can earn time playing special teams. However, special teams seem likely to be the only route for the high-upside Quillen to earn playing time as a freshman.

Toss-Ups (33-67% chance of playing)

  • WR Eric Kumah
  • LB Tavante Beckett
  • LB Eron Carter
  • ATH Reggie Floyd

All four of these guys are definite toss-ups with some having the athleticism and/or football IQ to gain consideration to be a regular on special teams in the fall.

Eric Kumah definitely has a lot of potential but there is no doubt that dealing with injuries this spring has put him behind the eight ball some in terms of trying to earn some playing time. Kumah fell behind Sam Denmark and Divine Deablo this spring while Justin Fuente has always been a big fan of Phil Patterson. However, Kumah can’t be ruled out especially if he is fully healthy and in shape entering fall practice.

Tavante Beckett and Eron Carter both have the potential to end up on special teams┬áthis fall but Beckett has the worse chance of avoiding a redshirt. Beckett needs to hit the weight room hard as soon as he arrives and while he has the football IQ, Beckett has a lot of work ahead of him. Carter immediately will provide depth at the mike linebacker spot while also getting the chance to see if he can push and take Sean Huelskamp’s backup spot though that seems unlikely.

Reggie Floyd was recruited as a defensive back by the previous staff but a lack of running back commits from this past class could lead him back to the other side of the ball. Floyd has the athleticism and grit to end up on special teams while he could possibly earn himself a backup safety spot at rover behind either Terrell Edmunds or Adonis Alexander depending on which one ends up at rover and which one is at cornerback.

All four of these guys seem somewhat unlikely to avoid the redshirt right now but definitely go down in the names to watch category.

Likely Playing(67-95% chance of playing)

  • WR Sam Denmark
  • CB Khalil Ladler

Sam Denmark had a solid spring and with Justin Fuente’s preference to using 6 or 7 wide receivers, Denmark has a very good chance of playing. The Hokies’ wide receiver depth was quite bad behind Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips last season, opening the door for freshmen like Denmark to earn some early playing time. Denmark has great speed and could work out of the slot or be used on some screens in the fall.

Khalil Ladler dealt with injuries last season but if he can get fully healthy, Ladler seems like he could be a lot like Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson, and make a big impact as a backup cornerback right off the bat. Ladler’s chances of playing would be a lot higher if it wasn’t for injuries last year, but it still seems likely that Ladler will touch the field on the defensive side as one of Virginia Tech’s top five cornerbacks.

Expected to Play (>95% chance of playing)

  • WR Phil Patterson
  • WR Divine Deablo

After climbing to the top of the depth chart among healthy wide receivers this spring (Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips were both injured), Divine Deablo has positioned himself to get some playing time this fall for the Hokies.

Deablo has always been seen as a guy with a lot of upside along with being fairly athletically gifted. Deablo has great size and athleticism and while he may not run by anyone, he has good speed and can find some holes in zone coverage. Deablo seems likely to be one of the top four wide receivers for the Hokies this fall.

Phil Patterson may have been the only VT WR commit to not enroll early but that won’t stop Patterson from playing early and more than the other three. Justin Fuente made getting Patterson back a priority as soon as he took over and has been very high on him for a while now.

Patterson knows how to beat a cornerback over the top with speed and acceleration that will make him a serious deep threat very early on. Patterson has tons of upside and likely will be able to work on the outside and out of the slot while being a very good third wide receiver behind Ford and Phillips.

Both Phil Patterson and Divine Deablo seem almost certain to avoid being redshirted and make an impact on the football field as true freshman, following the footsteps of Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips.

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