Jonathan McLaughlin has already made some history in his Virginia Tech career after he became the first freshman to start the whole season at left tackle in the Frank Beamer era. McLaughlin showed a lot of promise and earned Freshman All-American Second Team honors from College Football News that season.
McLaughlin seemed set to become one of the best offensive tackles in program history, but his adjustment to new OL coach Stacy Searels’ blocking scheme did not seem to go great. McLaughlin ended up moving to right tackle due to his struggles along with dealing with nagging injuries. These nagging injuries caused McLaughlin to be flat-footed and struggle through the season until injuries ended his season after nine games.
Questions surrounded McLaughlin entering this spring due to the injury and struggles that pushed him from left to right tackle. Fans were wondering if McLaughlin would be able to become one of the best offensive tackles that the Hokies have seen.
McLaughlin entered the spring as a player that didn’t seem to have a secure starting job, but ended it as the definite starting left tackle this fall.
This past spring, Jonathan McLaughlin emerged as a leader along with guard Augie Conte, and the starting five offensive line built strong chemistry. This chemistry and leadership helped develop the Hokies’ offensive line into what looks like the best starting offensive line group in the last few years for Virginia Tech.
McLaughlin looked more like the left tackle in 2013 that was healthy and a quality player on the blind side. McLaughlin’s strong spring prevented another Hokie offensive tackle from pushing for the starting left tackle spot including Wade Hansen, Yosuah Nijman, and Austin Clark.
McLaughlin is receiving some preseason praise as Phil Steele named McLaughlin to his Preseason All-ACC Fourth Team. The junior offensive tackle seems poised to have a bounce-back season after injuries seemed to derail his 2014 season.
However, McLaughlin will have to prove it against much tougher competition than the second-string defensive ends that he faced for most of the spring. McLaughlin will be tested immediately against Ohio State, and he will need to have fixed his issue with flat-footedness that was a big reason for his struggles in 2014.
Jonathan McLaughlin seems poised to have a bounce-back season in 2015, but we’ll have to wait and see till he faces live game action in less than two months.