Spring football has just about reached its conclusion with its culmination happening today in the 2023 Virginia Tech Spring Game. Here's a look at 5 Hokies at the top of my list to watch in the 2023 Spring Game.
QB Kyron Drones
This shouldn't come as a surprise and in many ways, this is about the battle between transfer QB addition Kyron Drones and returning starter Grant Wells as we add a full, public data point to the 14 other data points that the coaching staff has this spring. Wells is more of a known commodity even if the offseason lends itself to growth while Drones is definitely more of the unknown talent.
Today will give Tech fans a great look at seeing what the Hokies have with Drones and his dual-threat playmaking potential.
There's no doubt that Drones is a more raw talent at the quarterback position, but he has all the tools to develop into a big time quarterback. While being Baylor's backup last season, he did get a couple chances to play including a significant fourth quarter stint at West Virginia due to injury where Drones did show the upside that he has.
He is definitely a plus athlete who can make plays with his legs while the arm talent is there even if it needs some refinement. One of the biggest things to watch for both Drones and Wells is how good their chemistry is currently with the WR corps especially with 3 new transfer additions.
While Tech's offense wasn't great last year, the Hokies were able to hit some home run passes from Wells to Kaleb Smith which we got a mini preview of during last year's Spring Game.
Today presents a tremendous opportunity to find out more clearly what Kyron Drones brings to the table and though it's only one data point in the greater context of this QB battle, it'll give the general public more context on what can be expected going forward.
QB William Watson III
Early enrollee William "Pop" Watson III is not in the battle for the starting QB job, but if you are wondering who may be the future for the Hokies at quarterback beyond Wells and Drones, then Watson may be that guy.
The Massachusetts has received plenty of praise this spring from Brent Pry being brought up multiple times when Pry has been asked about his thoughts on the situation at quarterback.
There's room for any of the four non Wells or Drones quarterbacks to claim that #3 job after Devin Farrell had the edge over Tahj Bullock throughout last season. So far, Watson appears to be that guy living up to some of the hype that he showed when watching his tape with a dual-threat skill set that is reminiscent in many ways of a Johnny Manziel-type quarterback.
I've discussed his unique Manziel-like style previously in our scouting report on him and that type of creativity from the QB spot is a tremendous advantage for becoming a playmaker at that position.
Watson may not be in the QB hunt, but his style of play combined with a strong first spring in Blacksburg makes him a guy to keep an eye on especially as the starters come out and depth guys come in during the second half.
RB Bhayshul Tuten
Outside of quarterbacks, there may not be anyone more talked about this spring than NC A&T RB transfer Bhayshul Tuten.
The former FCS All-American who the Hokies flipped from Boston College this offseason has lived up to the hype as one of the top RBs in the transfer portal making it clear that he'll be forming a 1-2 punch with Malachi Thomas rather than taking a backup role to Thomas.
Tuten is a classic between-the-tackles RB who absolutely fits the type of power-running offense that the Hokies want to be engrained in their identity. He also has great burst of speed along with being able to get yards after contact due to his great balance that has impressed his coaches and teammates.
“Firstly, Bhayshul is a great person. On the field, he’s an amazing athlete. His contact balance and burst of speed, he just has all the tools so he’s going to be really good.” Malachi Thomas said.
It also has Tech confident that Tuten will live up to the hype and have tons of success paired with Thomas this season.
“Bhayshul has done a fantastic job, he has some natural ability that you can’t coach and I’m excited because he’s one of these kids that comes out every day and competes, he wants to get better. I’ve been around a lot of talented running backs and he continues to work hard. He will have a lot of success this year.” RBs coach Elijah Brooks stated.
Before Tuten plays in the games that matter, he gets to introduce himself more widely to Virginia Tech fans and could end up being one of the stars of the day if he plays like he has in Tech's scrimmages this spring.
DE Keyshawn Burgos
With TyJuan Garbutt and Jaylen Griffin gone, there's lot of opportunity at defensive end for Virginia Tech with Cole Nelson and CJ McCray entering this spring as the frontrunners. Tech also has JUCO transfer James Jennette arriving this summer and likely will pursue adding another DE in the transfer portal. Overall though, there is plenty of opportunity for just about anyone to earn a starting job at defensive end.
One guy who I've heard has been stepping up this spring is sophomore Keyshawn Burgos.
The Richmond native played primarily special teams last season while receiving some defensive reps finishing the season with 3 tackles including 0.5 for loss. He slowly but steadily emerged onto the defensive end depth chart late last season and has since taken off having a strong spring and impressing the coaches from what we've heard.
Now whether Burgos will be a starter at defensive end next season remains to be spring, but he absolutely should be considered a serious contender to earn a starting job based on what we're hearing out of spring practice. Today though, Burgos has a chance to display why he may have as high of a ceiling as any defensive end on Tech's roster currently.
LB Jaden Keller
Jaden Keller wasn't too heavily on the radar or the starting mike linebacker job entering this spring with Brent Pry even commenting earlier this offseason how he felt Keller was best off at one of Tech's outside linebacker spots.
However, there was an opportunity at mike linebacker for someone off the radar to step up with Alan Tisdale missing time for unknown reasons, Jayden McDonald missing some practice due to injury, and incoming VMI transfer LB Stone Snyder not arriving till the summer. Since then, Keller has stepped his game up and been one of the biggest risers this spring.
Pry has been particularly impressed with how Keller has picked up the mike linebacker spot and all that comes with that as he stated during a press conference a couple weeks ago.
"He's been a pleasant surprise. I was hoping he could just learn will (LB) better. And he's done that and he now has tackled mike (LB) because of the injury situation. And he's setting the front and making the calls. I saw him today, the D-Tackles were lined up wrong and he was able to get them lined up right and get back where he needs to be and line up himself. He's made a lot of progress that way. Coach (Chris) Marve has done a good job with him," Pry said.
Keller has put himself right in the hunt for the mike linebacker job and could be a guy to put on a show in today's Spring Game.