Our countdown of the top 10 Hokies from the 2016 season continues here at number nine with a man who was a four-year starter and while his time at Virginia Tech was up and down, he finished his career with what was the best season of his collegiate career at a new position.
That man is Virginia Tech right tackle Jonathan McLaughlin.
Jonathan McLaughlin was at left tackle for the first three seasons of his collegiate but the rise of Yosuah Nijman on the blind side plus the versatility of McLaughlin led to the South Carolina native moving to the right side, and it worked. McLaughlin thrived at right tackle this past season on his way to earning All-ACC Third Team honors in his senior season.
Virginia Tech’s offensive line was definitely not perfect this season, but McLaughlin was the best on the line as he flew under the radar this past season partly because of the fact that he played well and when an offensive lineman is playing well, they usually don’t get that much attention especially when other people on the line are struggling.
McLaughlin definitely should get a chance at the NFL Combine as someone who has made 49 starts in his collegiate career and has improved a lot over the past year. There’s definitely a decent chance that McLaughlin could end up getting chances at both guard and tackle in the NFL, but he’s a guy who definitely can make a good challenge to try to earn a roster spot and if it doesn’t work out, no one should be surprised if he lands on his feet in the CFL and is potentially pushing for a spot in the NFL in a couple years should he choose to.
McLaughlin definitely has a future in football and while it probably won’t be at left tackle again, he’s shown this past season that he’s a versatile player who can play on either side of the line and likely could move to guard if a NFL team wanted him to. McLaughlin will go down as one of the best offensive linemen of the past several years to play at Virginia Tech after having the best season of his career in 2016.
McLaughlin may not have much football left in his career, but he left a solid legacy in Blacksburg with a great senior season that makes him one of the Hokies’ best offensive lineman over the past few years.