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Quick Notes From Virginia Tech Football Open Portions of Practice 8/19/22

Keonta Jenkins 1 Fall Camp 2022 From VT

For the sixth time during fall camp, the media including myself were able to see about a 20-30 minute portion of practice. Here's a look at some of my notes from this sixth open portion of practice for the Hokies.

Stephen Gosnell Back Fully, Jalen Holston & Keli Lawson Out

There are a couple of minor injury updates for Virginia Tech today. The big positive one is that WR Stephen Gosnell was back in full pads with a regular jersey and not the non-contact blue jersey that he had worn earlier this week on Wednesday.

Gosnell has had a strong camp that has not only pushed him into the second string wide receivers but also has him working some with Grant Wells at the spot that Jadan Blue would be if he was able to practice. With Blue still out, Gosnell is clearly trying to make a case that he could start if Blue's absence were to trickle into the season.

Meanwhile, colleague David Cunningham at TSL noticed that Jalen Holston was not available for practice today with a VT spokesman stating that he was "unavailable".

LB Keli Lawson was not at practice today with a Virginia Tech spokesman saying that he is still "unavailable."

RB vs LB Drills, Jaden Keller's Starting Odds On The Rise

Today's practice did allow us to see some offense-defense portions with the most competitive one being the passing drills between the running backs and the linebackers with the running backs generally having the edge.

Jaden Keller had a particularly nice pass breakup on a matchup with Chance Black at one point while he did give up a completion later on to Keshawn King and did hear from Chris Marve as well about it. Meanwhile, Bryce Duke showed some of his pass-catching potential going by Alan Tisdale in one drill on somewhat of an angle route that you would see over the middle.

Keonta Jenkins' pass coverage skills from his time at safety showed some in this drill as well as he had won a rep against Keshawn King. Redshirt freshman Kenji Christian stuck out some in this drill today with a pair of catches during it which was a pleasant development for Christian given that he is a bigger back.

Of course, it's important to remember that this is from one four-minute drill in a 2ish hour practice so don't read too much into this.

The one thing you may be able to read into is the fact that Jaden Keller's odds of starting against ODU over Alan Tisdale seem better and better. That comes from Keller working regularly with Dax Hollifield in LB drills that pair mikes and wills up to Brent Pry's comments on Wednesday about Keller and about Alan Tisdale cross-training some at other positions, and Keller making some nice plays in practice.

Nick Gallo Gets TE1 Reps In QB-TE Drill

This likely doesn't come as a surprise to anyone, but Nick Gallo was getting the primary reps again in a QB-TE drill today with Drake DeIuliis working with Jason Brown. Connor Blumrick has been getting reps with both top QBs previously and his role seems likely to be similar to Bucky Hodges previously so it's hard to compare him to the two more traditional TEs.

Regardless, Gallo currently seems to have the edge as you would expect the multi-year starter to have over DeIuliis who had gained some ground and greater playing time in recent years. However, Gallo has proven himself to be a quality, in-line tight end especially as a blocker and short-yardage receiver with plenty of room for growth.

The question now is whether Gallo can take the next steps and round out his game this season? If he can, he should be able to stave off any pressure that DeIuliis can bring to take the starting job though expect both of those guys and Blumrick to see regular playing time this fall with two tight ends sets likely a strong possibility.

DL Drill Updates Including Wilfried Pene

There's not much to report from what we saw from the defensive line who were working in the indoor facility during the portion we got to see for only the second time.

The top 3 at defensive tackle has been set for a while with Norell Pollard, Josh Fuga, and Mario Kendricks but the fourth spot has seemed more open. Wilfried Pene was the favorite on paper for that fourth DT job and received some praise from DL coach J.C. Price during one drill.

Meanwhile, there were a couple drills built more for the interior and more physical inside guys with Cole Nelson and Jaylen Griffin leading the DE room while TyJuan Garbutt and CJ McCray were off to the side as both of them seem to profile more as true edge, speed guys.

During those drills, Price had multiple short phrases of encouragement with "Be The Technician" being the one I noticed being heard the most.

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