Most agree that Virginia Tech’s 2017 recruiting class is one of the most talented the Hokies have brought in over the past decade or more in a class that was headlined by a few talented defensive recruits including Devon Hunter, Nathan Proctor, and Tyjuan Garbutt.
However, the Hokies brought in plenty of offensive talent that will be ready to make an impact as true freshmen for the Hokies. With that said, here’s a look at the top 3 offensive true freshmen to watch in 2017.
Honorable Mentions: Jalen Holston, Kalil Pimpleton
Jalen Holston is the only player to make the cut who wasn’t an early enrollee as Holston likely should have a great opportunity to come in and compete for playing time immediately at the running back spot. While Travon McMillian is the favorite to be the starter, that appears to be far from certain with Steven Peoples and Deshawn McClease pushing him a lot this past spring and Holston likely to be in the battle this fall.
Kalil Pimpleton was the top slot receiver this past spring, but that was largely due to the available personnel. While Pimpleton is likely to get some reps this upcoming season, it’s hard to see him being at the top at slot receiever with CJ Carroll now healthy and Ohio State grad transfer James Clark in Blacksburg. However, don’t be surprised to see Pimpleton play some especially with how Justin Fuente would like to have as many as 8 wide receivers to work with.
3. QB Hendon Hooker
Hendon Hooker comes in at #3 due to the fact that he is in the Hokies’ quarterback competition but doesn’t climb any higher than this spot due to the fact that Josh Jackson is the heavy favorite to be the Hokies’ starting QB this fall. However, Hooker has the talent to push for Jackson and appears to be the biggest challenger to the redshirt freshman for the job at this point.
At times, Hooker looked the best among the three quarterbacks during the Spring Game, but also worked heavily with the second team offense against the second team defense. Hooker definitely showed that he was the top competition to Jackson over AJ Bush who didn’t look bad in the Spring Game but didn’t look like a future starter for the Hokies.
Hooker definitely was a great get for the Hokies on the recruiting as a very athletic quarterback with a great arm who appears to have the skills to make plays with his arm and through the air. Hooker definitely improved a lot this spring, but he definitely isn’t the Hokies’ most polished quarterback yet and even though he isn’t the favorite to win the job, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him earn it, helping him make the top 3.
2. TE/H-Back Dalton Keene
Dalton Keene worked with the first and second team offenses in the Spring Game and while he did work some at tight end, he also worked a decent amount in the h-back role Sam Rogers had a lot last season being used as a blocker and a checkdown receiver. Keene seemed quite comfortable in that role and with the freshman from Colorado being the only one receiving significant reps in that capacity, he seems to be Fuente’s choice to be the Hokies’ next h-back.
Keene did well at being a checkdown target as the h-back while he looks like he should be a solid blocker. Keene also has the talent to push Chris Cunningham to become the Hokies’ top tight end in addition to being Virginia Tech’s h-back. Keene did a great job finding space over the middle for a touchdown from Hendon Hooker in the Spring Game and definitely appears to be the tight end of the future no matter what.
Keene has shown this Spring Game that he is the Hokies’ next h-back with Keene having the job locked down for the time being and seeming unlikely to relinquish it anytime soon. Keene will make a strong push to become the Hokies’ starting tight end but whether he earns that job as well or not, Keene will definitely have a large role in VT’s offense this season.
1. WR Caleb Farley
While Caleb Farley could still end up at cornerback, that seems very unlikely no especially after his impressive performance in Virginia Tech’s Spring Game in which he stole the spotlight with multiple big plays along with drawing 3 pass interference class when covered by veteran CB Brandon Facyson. Farley is definitely a future star for the Hokies and while he only was at wide receiver for a few practices this spring, he already looks ready to claim a starting role this fall.
Farley has a special blend of size, speed, and athleticism that will make him a nightmare for college cornerbacks and a future NFL wide receiver. Farley has all the tools athletically while his Spring Game performance showed that he wasn’t too bad at a few basic routes, a good sign that he should be able to be a quick learner which will only help him competing against guys like sophomore Eric Kumah and redshirt freshman Phil Patterson for a starting receiver job.
Farley has the size to go up and win plenty of jump balls while also having the speed to burn by cornerbacks and blow the top off the defense. Farley is definitely a game changer that will be a playmaker from day one for the Hokies and definitely has the talent and upside to be a Freshman All-American in 2017.
Virginia Tech got one of the biggest steals of the 2017 recruiting class with Farley, and he will make plenty of teams regret overlooking him.