When Da'Wain Lofton arrived at Virginia Tech last offseason, it didn't take long for the hype machine surrounding him to take off especially with coaches and players sharing plenty of excitement. A freshman that can make that type of dent early on is someone who not only is a talented player once the ball is snapped but plays with a confidence and mentality that makes it clear what he's about.
Once the season began though, Lofton wasn't used nearly as much as expected in the Tech offense given the hype as Tech's WR rotation was very short once again.
However, things changed over the final two games of the regular season after the departure of Justin Fuente with Lofton taking on a bigger role and making an impact with 5 catches for 70 yards and a touchdown against Miami and Virginia.
After that solid finish to the regular season, Lofton entered the spring with the chance to establish himself as a main guy in Virginia Tech's wide receiver room even with the arrival of Jadan Blue as Tre Turner declared for the NFL Draft and Tayvion Robinson transferred to Kentucky.
So far this spring, Lofton has made his presence known to everyone within the Virginia Tech football program including head coach Brent Pry.
"There are some guys (that have stood out). Lofton has stood out to the offensive coaches and the defensive coaches, he's a guy that's stood out," Pry said.
So what might be helping Da'Wain Lofton make such a strong impression this spring? Well there is the obvious fact that Lofton is an extremely talented football player with great athletic traits who continues as a football player.
But as important as the physical side of the game is, the mental side is also just as important and this spring, Lofton is walking around with a lot of confidence in all aspects that is impossible to not notice.
"Lofton is probably the most confident kid I have in the room. To him, that's just who he is as a person, that's just who he is as a player. He's confident in his abilities," WRs coach Fontel Mines said.
That confidence is making a big impression on not only the coaches but also older receivers like Jadan Blue who sees a lot of himself in Lofton and not only sees Lofton's confidence but also his passion for football and work ethic to be the best he can be.
"He reminds me of myself so much when I look at him. I gravitated towards him early on because I could tell 'okay, he cares.' That's one of the first things you need to look guys in the eyes and see that he really cares about what he has going on, he cares about football. This isn't something that he is doing because it looks cool," Jadan Blue said.
"That's one of the biggest things that I saw out of him and going forward, it shows in the way he works, the way he competes, the way he does everything. That's one of the biggest things that I would take away from [Da'Wain Lofton] is that he reminds me of a younger version of myself a lot so I know success will come to him."
Of course, Lofton is also very good at his craft of playing wide receiver from the athletic side of things to an improving receiver skill set including his catching ability, versatility, and route-running. Combine that with his work ethic and WRs coach Fontel Mines is confident that the future is bright for Da'Wain Lofton.
"He's versatile," Mines said. "I can move him around. He doesn't flinch. I think he can run the route tree and catch the ball really well. More than anything, he's a pleasure to coach, just doing extra, staying late, being early, 'yes sir no sir', just a super coachable kid who has a bright future."
There's no doubt that the talent is there especially given his natural speed which is something that can't be taught. But the rest of his game seems to be coming together more and more while his confidence and work ethic are exactly what you look for in a guy who can become a star WR at the Power 5 level.
Last summer saw Lofton receive a ton of hype before a season where he never seemed to get a lot of opportunities to showcase his abilities till late. This year though, there's plenty of reason to believe that Lofton will get the chances and be able to prove himself on Saturdays in the fall with Jadan Blue as confident as anyone in his teammate.
"One of the first guys that stood out to me was Da'Wain (Lofton). He's going to have a phenomenal year."