Justin Fuente and Virginia Tech briefly opened spring practice for the first time this spring to the media. While we weren't allowed to see much of practice, we did get some insight on some things happening along the offensive line and some other details. Here are some of our notes from yesterday.
D'Andre Plantin Working at Left Guard
We saw D'Andre Plantin play at left tackle last season against Virginia and Oklahoma State at a fairly high level, outplaying Parker Osterloh especially against UVA
. Going into the spring, most expected Kyle Chung to slide in at guard with D'Andre Plantin being the frontrunner to start at right tackle. While Chung has moved inside at center, VT has decided not to move Plantin outside and so far, it appears to have the redshirt junior in position to start.
In limited drills, Plantin was working with the first team offensive line alongside current first team center Kyle Chung. Plantin was impressive down the stretch last season and looked like a guy who should absolutely be starting on the offensive line in 2018 whether that was at guard or tackle.
While Plantin was a tackle coming out of high school, he has spent a good amount of time at guard since the arrival of Justin Fuente and Vance Vice. Plantin clearly has a high comfort level working on the interior of the offensive line, something that has helped him climb to the top of the depth chart at Wyatt Teller's old spot.
Plantin still has a lot of work ahead to keep this job but right now, the left guard spot appears to be his to lose.
Elsewhere Along the Offensive Line
Elsewhere along the offensive line, Virginia Tech appears to have an early two-deep with a few interesting names emerging high up early on. (The below depth chart is from left tackle to right tackle)
- First Team: Yosuah Nijman, D'Andre Plantin, Kyle Chung, Braxton Pfaff, Tyrell Smith
- Second Team: Silas Dzansi, Lecitus Smith, Zachariah Hoyt, Austin Cannon, TJ Jackson
As Fuente mentioned earlier in the day, Tyrell Smith, Silas Dzansi, and TJ Jackson are the main guys competing at Virginia Tech's open right tackle spot after Kyle Chung's move inside to center. Right now, it appears Smith has the inside track though one interesting note was that Silas Dzansi did get some reps with the first team at left tackle at times.
Part of the reason for that is likely to ensure that Dzansi has good communication with that side of the offensive line if Nijman were to get hurt especially after the offensive line having a dropoff last season when Nijman was out. Dzansi also could be VT's starting left tackle in a year with Nijman being a senior so using the spring to start to build some chemistry, even if it's only through some technique drills, isn't a bad way to do that.
Dzansi and Lecitus Smith are the only redshirt freshmen on this two-deep, but both players may have the chance to push for a starting job in the not too distant future especially with Nijman and Braxton Pfaff both being seniors. Zachariah Hoyt is the top competition for Kyle Chung at center and also appears in line to be the center of the future with the question being if that starts in 2018 or 2019.
Dax Hollifield is Spending a Good Amount of Time in Blacksburg
After being at practice over the weekend, Dax Hollifield was once again in Blacksburg taking in practice and chatting with some of the coaches including Bud Foster.
The four-star LB was the Hokies' top priority in the 2018 class and is a guy that VT clearly believes can compete for the starting mike linebacker job when he arrives this summer.
Now the Hokies are having a coaching convention today so that may have been part of the reason but given the early trend, it appears that Hollifield plans to make a few trips up to try to immerse himself in the Hokies' defense to the best of his abilities outside of being able to participate in drills.
While Hollifield will still have a lot of catching up to do once he gets to Blacksburg, simply getting to spend time with Bud Foster and learn the defense along with watching practice and seeing the speed of the collegiate level should help his adjustment when he arrives. For now, Rayshard Ashby remains the frontrunner to be the Hokies' starting mike LB, but Hollifield is trying to help his chances of pushing for that job when he arrives in the summer.
Hezekiah Grimsley, Coleman Fox Get Slot Receiver Work
Hezekiah Grimsley primarily worked on the outside last season, but it appears that the Hokies want to get him some more work in the slot this spring. Grimsley did some drills with other, smaller receivers who can be assumed to be primarily slot guys.
Grimsley has the speed to work out of the slot and developing that type of versatility just like they did with Sean Savoy makes a lot of sense. Don't be surprised if you see Grimsley moving all over the formation at WR next season from the slot to the outside.
Coleman Fox also received some work in a slot receiver position during some drills with QB and other RBs. Fox has shown that he is best outside the tackles, making the slot an interesting fit for a guy who does better in space. While Fox likely will remain at RB, Virginia Tech is going to give Fox some time in the slot to see if there are other ways he can be effective.
Photo Credit: Jake Roth
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