No matter what position you play, it's just about always true that players who enroll early for the spring semester have a better chance of playing as a true freshman than those who enroll over the summer and only spend a couple months with the team before the start of the season.
Spring football gives guys transitioning to the collegiate level a great chance to get used to the increased speed and better athletes while also getting them in a collegiate weight room that almost always help them because those better athletes as well along with adjusting to the difference being in a collegiate environment compared to being at home.
This spring, the Hokies are looking to rebuild their receiving corps that lost two of their star trio from last year in Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges while at tight end, the Hokies are looking for someone to play with lots of consistency and seize the top spot on the depth chart this spring.
For early enrollees Kalil Pimpleton and Dalton Keene, they have "quite a bit of an opportunity" to earn playing time this fall with a depth chart that presents a minefield of opportunity for the pair of true freshman offensive skill players. However, Fuente also said that he's been "encouraged by them (Pimpleton and Keene)" so far this spring, a great sign that the pair will have great shape to not only earn some playing time but potentially start as true freshmen.
With C.J. Carroll out for this spring and Henri Murphy not only dealing with some injuries but also working a fair amount on the outside and not just in the slot, Kalil Pimpleton has assumed the top spot in the slot giving him the chance to get plenty of reps and so far, he seems to be impressing both Justin Fuente and WRs coach Holmon Wiggins.
Wiggins had a fair amount of praise for Pimpleton yesterday saying that Pimpleton is dynamic with the ball in his hands, is a tough kid that "loves to ball", and is a "smart kid" that has been doing well at being able to "hold down the information we're throwing at him." Wiggins also mentioned how Pimpleton has been specifically looking good on bubble screens and jet sweeps in practice that the Hokies will definitely be looking to use in their offense in the fall with their slot receivers.
With Fuente and Wiggins hoping to have at least 4-5 wide receivers and hoping to eventually get to 7-8 wide receivers, Pimpleton will have a great opportunity with guys like Cam Phillips and Henri Murphy being able to play outside and Pimpleton showing lots of potential in the slot. The fact that the Hokies are comfortable with having Murphy work outside and Pimpleton be the only on-scholarship healthy slot guy this spring is a great sign of the confidence they have in him as well.
The biggest complement Pimpleton has gotten was how Wiggins said that Pimpleton has been exactly what they've expected him to be talent-wise and so far, it appears Pimpleton is doing everything he can to earn a role for the Hokies and give himself a great chance at making the two-deep in the slot especially with Cam Phillips working more on the outside.
Meanwhile, Dalton Keene is in the midst of a battle for the starting TE job that our own Henry Skutt took a look at here
and while Chris Cunningham is likely to be the top TE after the spring, Keene already seems to be in position to earn playing time this fall.
Last week, TEs coach James Shibest said that "we are going to need him" and "he is going to have to play next year just looking at it right now." While those aren't ringing endorsements for Keene, it appears clear that Keene is making a strong case that he should get the playing time they feels they'll need him to play with Fuente saying he's been "encouraged" by Keene and Shibest praising his toughness, athleticism, and strength last week.
Shibest said that Keene "looks a little raw" but praised Keene for his smarts and how he has been able to figure out things daily. Keene's athleticism, strength, and size were all things that made many believe that Keene could play early for the Hokies and with his early arrival, he appears to be putting himself in a great position to push Chris Cunningham for playing time and try to earn the top spot on the tight end depth chart.
At this point, both Kalil Pimpleton and Dalton Keene are in great position to earn a good amount of playing time this fall with Keene having a decent chance at earning the starting TE job and Pimpleton seeming likely to be in the WR rotation with a decent shot at making the two-deep in the slot though a healthy C.J Carroll and Ohio State transfer James Clark won't make that easy.
Stay up with The Tech Lunch Pail for the latest on the Hokies via Facebook and Twitter plus subscribe to our email updates.