The Virginia Tech Hokies have had an impressive lineage of walk-on talents earning playing time with star running back Sam Rogers and talented kicker Joey Slye being the two most notable Hokies in that type of position on the current roster.
The Hokies have had walk-ons earn big roles all over the field including Willie Byrn who, for a couple seasons, was arguably Virginia Tech’s best wide receiver working as a speedy, slot guy with a similar style to Wes Welker. While the Hokies do have a lot more talent than they did in Byrn’s time in Blacksburg, the Hokies have another Byrn working his way into the two-deep this fall that, like Byrn, was a walk-on.
That man is C.J. Carroll.
Carroll was listed as the backup slot wide receiver with Cam Phillips taking the top spot there as he moves inside with Bucky Hodges listed as a starting outside wide receiver. Carroll was one of the backups last season for the Hokies though Virginia Tech only played Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips as their wideouts with Bucky Hodges and Ryan Malleck having the versatility from the tight end spot to work in the slot or outside in Hodges’s case.
Unlike the man ahead of him at the slot spot, Carroll is purely a slot guy whose way to playing time will be via the slot spot and likely as a return man if Greg Stroman were to get injured. In Justin Fuente’s offense that likes to have 6-8 wide receivers, the redshirt sophomore from the same high school as Kendall Fuller will get some offensive playing time in Fuente’s up-tempo offense.
With a good chance that Isaiah Ford, Bucky Hodges, or both could leave early for the NFL Draft after this season, Cam Phillips could move back outside as a starter, opening the door for C.J. Carroll to potentially start next season though Phillips could also stay in the slot with younger talents like Divine Deablo, Phil Patterson, and Eric Kumah all being serious contenders to start on the outside should Ford, Hodges, or both leave after this season.
For this season, Carroll gives the Hokies a speedy slot guy that can be a weapon over the middle on quick passes, screen passes to get him space, or possibly some jet sweeps. Carroll may not get a lot of snaps but the redshirt sophomore could definitely end up with around 15-20 receptions by the end of the season.
C.J. Carroll has kept fighting even as the Hokies have brought in a large wide receiver class that has pushed Carroll, but hasn’t stopped him from earning a spot on the two-deep and likely playing time.