When Robert Porcher IV arrived at Virginia Tech, many wondered how long he would stay at defensive end. Though he played defensive end in high school, he was a part of a loaded defensive end class that included four-star recruits TyJuan Garbutt and Nathan Proctor along with three-star North Carolinian Zion DeBose.
In addition, Porcher’s size and high school tape suggested that he had the frame to move inside along with a skill set that would make him an effective 280-290 pound DT for the Hokies.
Porcher did start out as a defensive end, but over the past several months, Porcher made the move inside to defensive tackle likely in part due to the depth concerns for the Hokies on the interior.
However, Porcher had a shoulder surgery that limited him this offseason and has limited how much weight he was able to put on this offseason.
Entering this fall, Porcher is at 272 pounds, but Charley Wiles knows that the shoulder surgery limited his ability to put on as much weight as Wiles was hoping he would be able to add.
“He’s still weak, he’s going to be a year away from getting to that level because he’s had shoulder surgery and didn’t get to train. Coach (Ben) Hilgart, you’d have to ask him, he’s probably doing a little bit of a different workout in terms of maybe a little bit heavier trying to get him caught up a little bit,” Wiles said.
Though Porcher does have some work to do in the weight room, that hasn’t held him back from breaking into Virginia Tech’s defensive line rotation as the fifth defensive tackle this year with Charley Wiles lots of long-term potential in the redshirt freshman from Florida.
“Robert is a guy who has good football instincts, he’s got a knack, he can sense things. He’s a little bit more athletic than you give him credit for. Obviously, he played defensive end and tackle in high school so I think Robert with added strength and added experience will continue to improve, you know. I think he has a chance to see some more plays. The more he plays the better I think he’s going to get,” Wiles said.
That athleticism and quickness were two things that stood out to us about Porcher as a DT prospect when we evaluated him after signing with the Hokies. Those two traits continue to be part of what makes Porcher a promising young DT who could lessen some of those future concerns on the interior of the defensive line.
Porcher has shown some of that promise early this season picking up his first career tackle for loss last week against William & Mary. With Ricky Walker banged up, Vinny Mihota still getting back to normalcy after his knee injury, and Xavier Burke’s status being unknown since getting injured against Florida State; Porcher seems likely to receive lots of playing time against Old Dominion especially if the game is as big of a blowout as most expect.
Even when the Hokies get back to full strength at defensive tackle, Porcher should still get some reps as the Hokies’ fifth defensive tackle. No matter the number of reps he receives, this experience should be valuable in his development especially at a spot where the Hokies need a young DT like Porcher to fill the future gap at DT with Walker and Mihota graduating and Burke set to be a senior next year.
Shoulder surgery may have limited Robert Porcher IV’s ability to add some size this offseason, but the former defensive end is showing some promise as a defensive tackle of the future for the Hokies.