Our position-by-position preview for 2022 Virginia Tech Football ahead of fall camp continues as we leave the backfield and move outside to wide receiver. With Tre Turner and Tayvion Robinson, there is loads of opportunity for a new standout to lead the way with the Hokies hoping to find and develop some premium talent to replace those 2 talented WRs.
Check out our WR breakdown along with the rest of our position previews.
Projected WR Depth Chart Entering Fall Camp
- Jadan Blue, Kaleb Smith, Da'Wain Lofton
- Jaylen Jones, Dallan Wright, Christian Moss
- Stephen Gosnell, Xayvion Turner-Bradshaw, Tucker Holloway
- Luke Bussel, Tink Boyd, PJ Prioleau, William Kakavitsas
The lead trio seems basically set with Jadan Blue, Kaleb Smith, and Da'Wain Lofton set to lead the Hokies' WR corps. Jaylen Jones looks likely to be the top backup with Dallan Wright also climbing up the depth chart.
However, there is definitely plenty of completion to watch from the battle to be the lead WR1 at the top to the jockeying for playing time farther down the depth chart among true freshmen, a transfer, and multiple returning receivers in their second and third seasons of CFB.
Battle For WR1
Though the starting WR trio seems clear, there still remains a big question as to who Virginia Tech's WR1 will be.
The Hokies clearly had a solid trio of receivers, but there is some uncertainty as to whether these guys can replace the high level of production that Tre Turner and Tayvion Robinson brought to Blacksburg over the past few years. Finding something more than just a solid WR1 is something that Tech needs to do to be able bump up their ceiling from battling for a bowl game to ACC Coastal sleeper.
Temple transfer Jadan Blue was considered the clear favorite given the talent he showed for the Owls especially with a massive 2019 when he had 95 receptions, 1,067 receiving yards, and 4 touchdowns. Poor passing attacks for Temple the past two seasons seemed to hamper him, but the Hokies offer an opportunity for him to showcase his talents.
There's no doubt that Blue likely feels like he has much to prove given the lack of production since that big year with no excuses given how much better Grant Wells and Jason Brown are than what Blue had over his final couple of seasons at Temple.
Though he is considered the favorite to be the WR1, the gap seems much smaller now than it looked previously.
Hokie veteran Kaleb Smith is a big reason for that as he shined in the Spring Game with a pair of long touchdowns seeming to already have great chemistry with likely Tech starting QB Grant Wells. Smith has been a steady player during his first three seasons in Blacksburg and is coming off his best season to date in 2021 with 20 catches for 260 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Most had Smith written off as simply a solid starting WR but not a potential WR1. However, his performance in the Spring Game combined with his classic WR1 size, his P5 experience, and his under-the-radar speed give plenty of reason to beleive that Smith has the skills to take a big jump and be a #1 receiver.
The member of this trio who likely has the highest long term ceiling is Texan speedster Da'Wain Lofton who may also be the most likely to be on the same level of WR1 in 20222 as Turner and Robinson were in the past due in part to his massive upside and great speed. More on Lofton in just a moment.
The WR1 battle should be a fun one to watch that could change and evolve throughout the season given the varied backgrounds of a transfer, a Hokie veteran, and a promising second-year sophomore.
However, Tech will not only be looking to see who can be WR1, but seeing if any of these guys can be lead stars like Tre Turner and Tayvion Robinson in 2022. That's a question that remains to be seen what the answer may be but if one of these guys can develop into that star WR1 and not just the technical WR1, it likely will raise Tech's 2022 ceiling.
Da'Wain Lofton and Jaylen Jones had plenty of hype surrounding them during fall camp last year. However, it took till late in the season for Lofton to get his chance while Jones sparingly played meaningful offensive snaps throughout the season.
Now, both players seem poised for significantly bigger roles as the WR duo that Fontel Mines will be looking to build up to lead this room long term as Blue enters his final season of CFB and Smith has only one more after this one.
Lofton only had 7 receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown, but he showed his dynamic talent in moments down the stretch of his season especially against VT's two biggest ACC rivals with 3 catches for 20 yards and his first career TD against Miami followed by 2 catches for 42 yards against UVA. There's no doubt that Lofton has the potential to be a dynamic playmaker with his great speed and agility, and it wouldn't be surprising in my view if he's Tech's leading receiver when the season is over.
Meanwhile, Jaylen Jones didn't get much opportunity in 2021, but the former Richmond HS area standout is ready to make a big impact in 2022 after having 2 catches for 27 yards in the Spring Game with 31 yards after the catch that show his ability to make plays in space. Jones didn't face the toughest competition in high school, but he showed that he had dynamic talent regardless of who he was facing and now with a year of college football under his belt, I wouldn't be surprised to see Jones take a step forward and push the top 3 receivers.
Lofton and Jones may not be able to replace Turner and Robinson at the level they were at over the past couple of seasons in 2022, but the potential is there for them to do it long term while also being ready to make big impacts this upcoming season especially Lofton.
The Battle After The Top 4
The competition should heat up quickly outside the big 4 wide receivers with plenty of jockeying for short-term playing time and longer term starting opportunities.
Dallan Wright seems like the solid fifth WR at the moment, but there's no doubt that he'll face plenty of competition. Wright put up big numbers in high school, but hasn't bee able to break through and become a regular player even if not a starter yet. Wright has plenty of potential and seems to be heading in the right direction, but this is an important year for him to take the next steps and at least have some sort of regular playing time even if not as a starter.
Speed defines the incoming freshman duo of Xayvion Turner-Bradshaw and Tucker Holloway which also can give some belief that either could contend for some early playing time farther down the depth chart. Turner-Bradshaw seems like the more likely of the duo both because he has an NFL father who he can rely on for advice to adapt well to jumping up to the Power 5 level while he also can be used in versatile ways due to his great speed that may have Tech wanting to find ways to get him on the field anywhere.
Christian Moss and Stephen Gosnell are definitely two receivers who seem to be filling depth at the moment. Both players will be looking to take steps forward to show they have what it takes at the Power 5 level with Moss entering his second season but facing younger competition along with Gosnell who is hoping Virginia Tech is the right fit to maximize his talent after transferring from North Carolina.
Wright seems the most likely of this bunch to find his way into getting playing time this upcoming season beyond garbage time situations, but the gaps are small for those outside the top 4 WRs hoping to make a big jump forward or a fast, first impact.