The Brent Pry era has reached its first fall camp which got started on Tuesday. Throughout the fall, the Hokies have made portions of their Wednesday and Friday practices open to the media. Here are some of my notes from what I saw at the second fall camp practice on a warm Wednesday afternoon
Versatile Keshawn King
Keshawn King's versatility has been developed for a while due in large part to the big time speed that he brings and his ability to make plays in space. Now, it seems like Virginia Tech is putting in a concerted effort to develop King's versatility further and have him more as an offensive weapon than just a running back
During the portions of practice we saw today, King spent time working with both the running backs and the wide receivers in drills isolated to one specific position group. King looked fairly comfortable working with the receivers and definitely has the type of home run speed that Tech would love to use in a multitude of ways.
In a receiving corps that has plenty of room for guys to push their way up the depth chart behind the lead trio of Jadan Blue, Kaleb Smith, and Da'Wain Lofton; Keshawn King could be a wild card factor who gets used in a multitude of ways even when fellow RBs Malachi Thomas or Jalen Holston are on the field.
King also spent time among in a QB-RB handoff drill working with top quarterbacks Grant Wells and Jason Brown along with expected RB starter Malachi Thomas and veteran Jalen Holston. Meanwhile, there appeared to be a second tier of QBs and RBs with the running backs who were working with the QBs farther down the depth chart including Chance Black, Bryce Duke, and Kenji Christian.
That split shouldn't be too much of a surprise given the expectation that Thomas will be the lead back with Holston being a power/short-yardage guy and King being the change-of-pace speed back. However, King's role may reach beyond his exploits in the backfield and as a kick returner.
Connor Blumrick Climbing the Depth Chart
One thing that became fairly apparent early in practice was the fact that the Hokies had the same WRs and TEs working with the same quarterback in drill specific to QBs and one of those two groups. That was especially true in one drill we got to see where the QBs and TEs worked together.
In that drill, projected starting QB Grant Wells threw exclusively to Nick Gallo and Connor Blumrick from what I saw while Jason Brown threw primarily to Drake DeIuliis with other tight ends working with the other QBs who were there. There seemed to be a consistent theme of Tech getting Wells reps with other projected starters and primary use players throughout these reps which would seem to be a strong indication of where Blumrick currently stands.
Reminder, what we see is only a limited portion and is the first fall camp data point that we have, but Blumrick looks like he may already be pushing his way up the depth chart at tight end.
Of course, Blumrick is such a versatile athlete that he may be climbing up the receiving portion of the tight end/jumbo WR depth chart more than the true TE spot though it is of note to me that in the limited portion of practice we saw, I only noticed him working with the tight ends and not with WRs or QBs as you probably expected.
Johnny Garrett Works With Apparent Second Team OL
In one of the first things I saw was the offensive line doing a drill lining up as they would on gameday as a full five-man offensive line. In that drill, I got to see some of the second team offensive line where questions are about how the depth chart shakes out behind the expected starting 5 of Parker Clements, Kaden Moore, Johnny Jordan, Jesse Hanson, and Silas Dzansi.
This includes plenty of opportunity at offensive tackle with true freshman Johnny Garrett, a summer enrollee, already working with the second team offensive line at right tackle. Across from him at left tackle was former JUCO player Bob Schick as you would expect given that he's the only non-true freshman, scholarship offensive tackle who isn't a projected starter.
Garrett jumping onto the second team already over a walk-on with some experience like Will Jones seems like a good sign that Tech is liking what they see in him though obviously it is quite early. Regardless, Garrett may be one of the true freshmen who earn a spot on the two-deep for the Hokies this fall.
Natural Chemistry Between Chris Marve and Shawn Quinn
When Tech's defensive staff fully came together, there was an interesting pairing of Chris Marve as the defensive coordinator and LBs coach plus Shawn Quinn as the sam LBs/nickel coach. It's rare that you see a team have two defensive coaches committed to linebackers with usually one there plus two coaches each for the defensive backs and defensive line.
So how did they work together?
Unsurprisingly, things were quite smooth and the duo seem to already have great chemistry in how they are running things splitting up the LB unit at times for various different drills and then combining for other ones.
Both are very outgoing coaches as well which definitely brought some entertainment value with Marve and Quinn both getting involved in one drill built on improving reactions and closing times to a ball carrier once they've made their decision of what hole to attack.