Our countdown of the top 10 Hokies from the 2016 season continues on to number 7 who may be one of the best athletes to play for the Hokies in the past several years and is also likely to be picked the highest among Hokies in the 2017 NFL Draft.
That man is Bucky Hodges.
In 2014 and 2015, Hodges played primarily as a tight end for the Hokies but was used sometimes on the outside instead of either on the line or in the slot. In 2016, Virginia Tech moved Hodges to wide receiver and put him on the outside with Cam Phillips sliding into the slot and while Hodges didn’t have as big of an improvement as Phillips, putting Hodges on the outside definitely seemed to give defenses some problems.
Hodges had the best season of his collegiate career with 48 catches for 691 receiving yards, 7 receiving touchdowns, and 14.4 yards per catch; all of which were career highs for the former tight end. Hodges was also recognized as the Third Team All-ACC tight end despite the fact that he never played at tight end at all, but that also shows how most people still see him as a tight end in the NFL.
Hodges showed this season that while he isn’t a speedster, he has above-average speed for a man of his size that can even give a cornerback a little bit of an issue at time while his size makes him a huge hassle for most cornerbacks to cover. On top of that, many linebackers and strong safeties that are closer in size to Hodges may have issues staying up with him whether that be going over the middle or on the outside.
Hodges did have some issues with his hands, but his effort was much more consistent play-to-play this season, and Hodges proved to be someone that can make some big plays in critical games including having 7 catches for 66 yards and 2 touchdowns against Miami, 6 catches for 145 yards against Pittsburgh (in which Pitt’s defensive stubbornness was taken advantage of), and 4 catches for 69 yards in the Hokies’ 13th-straight victory over Virginia.
Hodges has a bright future ahead of him as a tremendous athlete that has the potential to be a nightmare for NFL defenses as long as he can improve his hands. Hodges has the potential to be a Jimmy Graham or Dallas Clark-type playmaker at tight end at the next level as someone who is an average blocker at best, but a tremendous weapon in the passing game that can work in the slot or on the outside. Hodges will need to improve his hands as well at the next level, but the sky is the limit for the 757 native.
Bucky Hodges may have never reached his full potential in Blacksburg, but he was definitely productive for the Hokies and has a very bright future in the NFL.