Spring Practice is about to get underway for the Virginia Tech Hokies in the second year of the Justin Fuente era after winning the ACC Coastal title and winning 10 or more games for the first time since 2011. The Hokies released their spring roster today which showed some interesting position changes for some Hokies.
Divine Deablo: WR to DB
Divine Deablo is changing sides of the ball from offense to defense moving from wide receiver to defensive back after being unable to gain much playing time last fall at wide receiver. Deablo showed a lot of promise as a great athlete at wide receiver last spring, but he had some issues with more of the technical side of being a wide receiver while his hands were below-average at best for a wide receiver.
We’re hearing that Deablo will likely be a safety and given the fact that he’s almost 210 pounds, that seems to make a lot of sense though Bud Foster did mention today that Deablo could end up at cornerback. Deablo is a great athlete, but it’s clear that his hands were too big of an issue to play wide receiver and it’ll be interesting to see how well he adjusts this spring to playing on the other side of the ball.
What is definitely clear is there is opportunity to get inot the two-deep at safety with Chuck Clark gone, but with Devon Hunter arriving in the fall and expected to play as a freshman, the challenge will be quite big for Deablo and after not redshirting last year, he could be headed for one this year to help with his development.
Xavier Burke: TE to DE
This may be the biggest surprise of any position change this spring as Xavier Burke is also going from offense to defense this spring moving from tight end to a defensive end spot that definitely has some depth concerns this spring given how Vinny Mihota is recovering from offseason surgery, Trevon Hill may be limited some this spring, and VT doesn’t have much on-scholarship depth that played DE last year outside of Houshun Gaines.
Burke’s move is definitely interesting and while it isn’t surprising given how he wasn’t really able to climb up the depth chart at tight end, it is interesting to see him move over to defensive end instead of bulking up and moving to offensive line as you see many times from a tight end making a position change. One positive for Burke is he does have good size already for a defensive end at 6’3” and 255 pounds
There is no doubt that Burke should get a good amount of reps in what likely is an important spring for Burke to try to see if he can earn some playing time because if not, you have to wonder if he may end up transferring.
Colt Pettit: OG to TE
Colt Pettit started last season as the Hokies’ starting offensive guard but now is making a position change to tight end full-time after playing some at tight end during the end of this past season. The move is definitely an interesting one for a guy who was the Hokies’ starting offensive guard briefly this past season and is likely very raw as a receiver, making him heavily a blocker in the short term.
For Pettit, it’ll be critical for him to develop as a receiver to earn playing time as while Chris Cunningham didn’t play much, he was used some as a receiver as well as a blocker, not allowing for defenses to adjust to having only four go out on the pass play or the more likely run plays that seemed very likely when Pettit was used as a tight end.
Pettit will also need to get his weight down from being almost 300 pounds as a guard to a more nimble 260-270 to truly be more than just a blocker especially given how he is only 6’3”. Pettit definitely showed some promise and should be an above-average blocking tight end, but the move still seems odd for an offensive guard to move to tight end, and only time will tell if it really works out for Pettit.
Emmanuel Belmar, Raymon Minor: LB to DE
Virginia Tech is moving a couple linebackers to defensive end in Emmanuel Belmar and former on-scholarship linebacker Raymon Minor. Bud Foster said that Belmar’s progression to defensive end was not surprising and reminded him some of former Hokie Nekos Brown who started at linebacker but eventually moved to defensive end and had lots of success there.
Belmar at defensive end is particular interesting as he played with his hand on the ground a lot in high school and he seemed more like a defensive end than an outside linebacker. Belmar does need to add some weight at 228 pounds but Belmar is an intriguing defensive end prospect that could make a push at earning a spot in the two-deep if he can have a strong spring.
Belmar is an intriguing player to watch this spring at defensive end and no one should be surprised if Belmar ends up being the favorite to earn the other backup DE spot next fall alongside Houshun Gaines.
Raymon Minor nearly transferred and became a walk-on last fall and now is making a position change as he continues to look to find a way to make an impact at Virginia Tech. At this point, it’s hard to see Minor making an impact, but what’s clear is that he has no intention on giving up on his goal of breaking through and earning playing time with the Hokies.