Virginia Tech had their second partially open practice of fall camp today. Here's a look at my notes on some of the things that stuck out.
Jaden Keller On The Rise
Brent Pry has had plenty of praise for Jaden Keller including in his press conference on Wednesday where he told media in attendance including myself that Keller was in the competition at the will linebacker spot with Alan Tisdale.
That hype will certainly continue as Keller continues to impress Brent Pry and his staff in fall camp from a nice diving interception in a RB-LB one-on-one passing drill on Wednesday to impressing Pry to get the most notable praise during an all-defense drill today.
Keller also got some work paired with Dax Hollifield in one linebacker drill with Alan Tisdale working some with Keshon Artis. Now to be clear, Tech was rotating their will and mikes around somewhat with each will and mike working with two different players which included Keller also working with Tyler Matheny who has moved to that spot it would appear.
But for anyone who still doubts that there is a legitimate competition between Tisdale and Keller this fall, doubt no more even if I would still put Tisdale as the favorite given his experience for now.
DaeQuan Wright and Connor Blumrick Working With WRs At Times
I mentioned on Wednesday that Keshawn King has worked some with the wide receivers including in a drill that day exclusively with the wide receivers with King doing so for one drill of the few we saw which continued once again today in the limited portion we we were able to receive.
He wasn't the only non-wide receiver working with the receivers in a drill primarily for WRs today as both Connor Blumrick and DaeQuan Wright also worked with the wide receivers for a drill today while Tyler Bowen was working with the other tight ends separately.
Blumrick shouldn't be a surprise as he was always considered more of a jumbo WR than a true tight end which appears to be how Tech views him as well. The comparison to Bucky Hodges in his lone season under Justin Fuente is the easy but fairly right one though Tech does seem to want to try to see how much of the non outside the line receiving skills they can develop in the former QB.
Wright may be a surprise to some given that he's an incoming freshman and not a player changing positions late in his career like Blumrick. However, Wright's pass-catching ability was considered one of his strengths as a recruit with Tech clearly interested in developing him further in that regard so that they could use him some as a jumbo WR whether this year or down the road and not just as an in-line TE.
Current Offensive Line Depth Chart Projection
Now that we've gotten to see at least a couple portion of practice that included some five-man offensive line alignments, we are starting to get a picture of the current order of the offensive line and where some of the overlaps are currently.
The starting 5 is who you would expect with Silas Dzansi, Jesse Hanson, Johnny Jordan, Kaden Moore, and Parker Clements working from left tackle to right tackle. The only minor surprise may be that Moore and Clements are still on the right side with Dzansi and Hanson on the left side though that does maintain some continuity on that side while Dzansi has more overall experience in terms of the tackle position.
The second team interior offensive line also seems fairly secure with Braelin Moore at left guard, Jack Hollifield at center, and Danijel Miletic at right guard. Braelin Moore is the only true freshman that I would be certain of being in the two-deep though I do expect one of the backup offensive tackles to likely be a true freshman as well.
Tackle is the more interesting spot with Bob Schick likely to be the #3 offensive tackle. Meanwhile, Xavier Chaplin and Johnny Garrett are battling for the other two-deep spot with Garrett getting some time with the second team in the full offense work we saw on Wednesday and Chaplin getting some today. Former walk-ons Will Jones and Chris Boyd could also work their way in though they may be simply batting for the second tackle spot on the third team OL.
Today's third team interior offensive line had Nikolai Bujnowski at center with Tyler Smedley and Brody Meadows working as the guards. We didn't see fellow true freshmen Hunter McLain and Johnny Dickson and though they may also be working their way in as well, both seem certain to redshirt this year.
Tyler Matheny Working at Mike Linebacker
One of the more minor position changes involves former walk-on of 2020 emergency start against Duke fame Tyler Matheny who has moved from safety to linebacker as updated on Virginia Tech's official roster. Matheny has also bulked up to 227 pounds according to the official Tech roster as well.
While some may assume that Matheny is working at the sam LB spot like former safeties Keonta Jenkins and J.R. Walker, that is not the cause. Rather, Matheny is currently working at the mike linebacker spot as was shown during a drill today that was made up of just the mike and will linebackers.
Unsurprisingly, Matheny is not among Tech's rock solid two-deep at mike with Dax Hollifield the starter and Keshon Artis the backup. However, Matheny appears to be battling for the third-string spot at mike linebacker which could give him a chance to break into the two-deep net year though some of Tech's younger mike prospects will also be battling with him.