The Virginia Tech football team has announced the projected starters and back-ups for the first game of the 2018 season. The initial depth chart was released on Wednesday morning and features a few surprises.
The first thing that should jump out to anyone viewing the chart is the amount of young players who are expected to see playing time in Week 1. Two freshmen and 10 sophomores are listed as starters for the Hokies.
“I’m excited to go compete with these guys. They’ve worked hard. There’s only one way to get experience and we’re going to jump right into the fire,” head coach Justin Fuente said on Wednesday’s ACC Coaches Teleconference.
One of the most surprising young players to make an appearance is starting center Zachariah Hoyt. Hoyt played in three games last season as a redshirt freshman and is set to be a first-time starter in his sophomore year. Many expected sixth-year senior Kyle Chung to start at center, but he will take over the left guard spot while Hoyt begins to see his first real playing time.
“He’s worked incredibly hard. He’s always doing extra. He’s really come on in the past year,” Fuente said.
Redshirt freshman Silas Dzansi is the other young player to start on the offensive line, getting the nod in the left tackle spot.
Eric Kumah leads the receivers and is joined by sophomores Hezekiah Grimsley and Damon Hazelton. Sean Savoy, Phil Patterson and Tre Turner will serve as back-ups. No starter has been named yet for either the tight end or running back position.
There are no real surprises on the defensive line and today’s depth chart release confirms that Vinny Mihota will be limited in the Florida State game as he is listed as a back-up to Ricky Walker. There have been some questions surrounding Trevon Hill recently, but he is slated to start in the right defensive end spot.
Houshun Gaines and Jarrod Hewitt will also start on the defensive line on Monday night.
All three starting linebackers are sophomores, with Dylan Rivers, Rayshard Ashby and Khalil Ladler getting the nods. True freshman Dax Hollifield will serve as a back-up to Rivers in the outside linebacker spot while Devon Hunter is the back-up whip. This year’s linebacker corps will be an interesting one to watch as none of the players have much experience.
Reggie Floyd gets the start at rover, the only upperclassman to start at defensive back. He’s joined by Divine Deablo at free safety and Bryce Watts and Caleb Farley as the corners. Farley is a redshirt freshman who missed last season after suffering a pre-season knee injury. Farley will also serve as the kick returner.
Brian Johnson and Oscar Bradburn have been named the starting kicker and punter, respectively. CJ Carroll will be returning punts for the Hokies.
Tech fans will get their first look at the 2018 starters when the Hokies take on FSU on Monday night. Kick off is slated for 8 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.