With Damon Hazelton announcing his decision to transfer recently, Virginia Tech is looking at adding a big, veteran wide receiver to their 2020 team via the transfer portal. One player they've expressed interest in is Marshall WR Obi Obialo.
Obialo told us that the Hokies are among the teams who have reached out to him since announcing his decision to transfer along with Oklahoma and Nebraska.
I want to thank all the coaches and staff at Marshall for the opportunity to grow into the person and player I am today, but I have decided to Graduate Transfer and play my final year at another university.— Obi (@DoubleOLeven) January 17, 2020
Thank you. pic.twitter.com/sGkCuIgfXN
Interest between the Hokies and Obialo is mutual as the Marshall Transfer has set up a visit to Blacksburg for the weekend of January 31st.
Obialo had a breakout 2018 season with 42 receptions for 505 yards and 4 touchdowns. A foot injury was initially expected to cause Obialo to miss the entirety of the 2019 season, but he chose to return and play the final 4 games, taking advantage of the NCAA's redshirt rule to preserve a year of eligibility and impress with 18 receptions for 244 yards.
Obialo also had 4+ receptions in 3 of 4 games, all of which came against teams that finished winning records including 8 receptions for 146 yards against Louisiana Tech. (Yes, that's the same Louisiana Tech team that held Miami scoreless in the Independence Bowl.)
While it's completely understandable for a player to miss the full season to ensure a full recovery, the fact that Obialo would push himself to come back in time for the stretch run of his team's push to earn a spot in the conference championship says a lot about the type of presence he is in the locker room.
The Hokies have some younger bigger receivers on the roster who definitely have shown some potential in limited action including Kaleb Smith (9 catches, 121 yards, 1 TD in 2019) and Darryle Simmons (1 reception in 2019). Additionally, the Hokies have a trio of younger, highly-regarded outside receivers who redshirted this past season in Jaden Payoute and Elijah Bowick.
However, any time you can add quality experience and competition is always beneficial especially with a guy like Obialo who was productive over the past two seasons at Marshall. Obialo has shown the potential to be a quality starting receiver at the Power 5 and would fit well next to Tre Turner and Tayvion Robinson to lead the way for the Hokies in 2020.
The question that remains is will the Hokies be able to hold off some tough competition for the Marshall star.