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Four Thoughts on Virginia Tech's First Offensive Depth Chart

Jadan Blue 1 Fall Camp 2022 From VT

Virginia Tech released their first depth chart of the Brent Pry era ahead of Friday's season opener at Old Dominion. There were plenty of interesting surprises and expected things revealed by it from those who took photos of it on site including Tech Sideline's David Cunningham, The Roanoke Times' Mike Niziolek, and The Athletic's Andy Bitter.

So let's start with my thoughts on the offensive side of things.

Wide Receiver Surprises

The surprises came on the offensive side of the ball at wide receiver with Stephen Gosnell being listed as a starter over Jadan Blue, and walk-on William Kakavitsas being the only other backup WR.

Lets start with Gosnell over Blue as the UNC transfer Gosnell has had a strong fall camp pushing himself well up the depth chart into position to be a regular contributor for the Hokies regardless of his starting status. However, I still see Gosnell as the top backup generally speaking and not suddenly jumping Blue in a classic don't read too much into it situation.

The big reason why is probably obvious as Blue missed multiple weeks of fall camp due to injury and just returned to practice last week. Tech clearly feels good about Blue playing but likely is taking a cautious approach to how much they play him especially in a non-conference game with BC looming next week.

That's opened an opportunity for Gosnell to have a potentially larger role than normal to start and prove he should have a large role going forward that goes beyond what you'd expect from a typical backup WR. Gosnell also playing well in Norfolk could be a nice recruiting plus for Tech in the 757 in showing how the Hokies could get more than UNC out of a player, especially as UNC has been a massive force recruiting the 757.

Meanwhile, the other surprise was Kakavitsas being the only backup receiver. He had been receiving some reps with the 2s along with Jaylen Jones and Christian Moss with Blue out and clearly seized that opportunity. Jones seems likely to slide back into the depth chart when Blue takes over a starting spot but seeing him there over Jones (who's been working primarily st slot) and Moss plus freshman Tucker Holloway is notable to say the least.

Of course, Tech has had some productive walk-on wide receivers over the years including Willie Byrn and CJ Carroll within the past decade so this isn't completely outside the norm for Tech either.

No Surprise at Left Guard

There's been plenty of talk about the left guard spot and while Braelin Moore made things somewhat interesting there, no one should be surprised to see Jesse Hanson at the top of the depth chart at left guard.

Part of the Moore speculation was built on the loads of praise from Brent Pry for the true freshman. However, lots of important context was missing from those who simply read quotes online as most of the Moore praise came in the context of which true freshmen were sticking out and not in the context of a competition at left guard until recently.

However, don't be surprised if Moore keeps pushing Hanson throughout the season given the upside he has along with the fact that he has only had fall camp at guard after working at defensive tackle in the spring.

In some ways, this seems similar to 2019 and 2021 at right tackle where Silas Dzansi was the starter before being surpassed by high upside, younger offensive tackles in Luke Tenuta and Parker Clements. It remains to be seen if Hanson can hold on to the job for the whole season though for now, there's a clear gap.


Tight Ends Usage Will Vary

At tight end, there was a lot of the word "OR" among the lead trio of Nick Gallo, Drake DeIuliis, and Connor Blumrick. In this case, this seems fitting not because it's a three-way competition for one spot but more so because of their varied uses.

Gallo and DeIuliis should be used in more traditional ways with Gallo likely the top guy and DeIuliis coming in during more traditional two-TE sets. DeIuliis also is more of a hybrid between Gallo as an h-back type and Connor Blumrick as a jumbo receiving TE type who could be used in a variety of spots and situations.

Blumrick fits more of the Bucky Hodges TE role where he's mostly jumbo WR and likely won't play much as a traditional TE just like Hodges during the 2016 season. Blumrick did spend some TE at Texas A&M previous but even in the parts of practice we've gotten to see, his workload and route-tree has looked different than most of the tight ends.

Gallo feels like the true TE1 if there is one but this is a case where all three have different strengths and weaknesses that could lead to a fascinating rotation at least early in the season and vary with the changes in game situations week-to-week.

Devin Farrell Has Lead At QB3

This depth chart provided an interesting insight for the future as true freshman Devin Farrell was listed as the third-string QB with Tahj Bullock not being listed.

While most of the attention unsurprisingly was on the starting QB battle, this battle for the future post-Grant Wells has raged on from the spring through fall camp with the young Farrell having the edge. Farrell is an intriguing prospect who is a great athlete with great speed while he's also a proven winner in high school and has a good arm.

In some ways, the profile of Farrell is similar to that of a Penn State QB who was very successful early in James Franklin and Brent Pry's time in Happy Valley, Trace McSorley, albeit Farrell definitely is a better athlete and faster.

Expect this competition to continue on throughout the year but for now, Farrell appears to have the lead.

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