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Dylan Rivers has a huge ceiling in Bud Foster's defense. [Credit: Harley Taylor][/caption]One of the biggest attention-grabbing headlines Virginia Tech made on the recruiting trail with the Class of 2017 came two days after the commitment of Devon Hunter when Dylan Rivers, at the time committed to Penn State and wrapping up an official visit there, announced that he had flipped his commitment from Penn State to Virginia Tech.
The decision seemed to come almost but of the blue and was the third commitment for the Hokies in a string of four commitments in four days that had been started with Devon Hunter two days earlier. The Rivers commitment was another big boost to giving the Hokies some late recruiting momentum as they finished with one of their best recruiting classes in recent memory.
Rivers was one of the headline names from this class as a big get at the linebacker spot that plenty were excited about getting as it's clear Rivers was one of the top names on the Hokies' 2017 board. Rivers has a high ceiling and based on his tape, it seems clear that playing time will come calling for him very soon and that a starting job could be his in 2018.
Rivers already has solid size at 6'3'' and 230 pounds as listed by Virginia Tech while he is a fairly good athlete with good strength and solid speed though his speed isn't much above average for a linebacker. However, Rivers' speed will definitely not be a liability as it has been at times in the past for Virginia Tech linebackers especially some of the walk-ons that have been at the mike spot and have used their football IQ to cancel out their below-average speed.
While Dylan Rivers is a solid athlete, Rivers is a better football player and is built on his toughness and high football IQ that should make him a really good football player in Bud Foster's scheme whether he plays at the mike (which seems like the better spot) or the backer spot.
Rivers' has an above-average football IQ for a high school linebacker and it shows time and time again as Rivers always seems to find a way to put himself in the right position on the field. Rivers does a great job of not only keeping his eyes on the backfield but also has great awareness for where he is on the field and either filling a hole or quickly getting through a hole in blocking to get in the backfield and shut down an opposing running back.
Rivers is also a very good tackler that does a great job of wrapping up and has a tackling technique that youth football coaches could show kids to teach them how to tackle. Rivers also brings great toughness and a good amount of strength with him as well that makes it very difficult for any opposing runner to not only break a tackle against Rivers but also even gain anymore yards beyond that.
Rivers played tight end in high school as well, and seems to have developed some solid ball skills that should lead him to being a solid linebacker in pass coverage along with having great awareness that may make him very useful not only in pass coverage but also in a spy-like role to help against mobile quarterbacks.
Rivers has a very good motor and definitely could be someone that not only earns a backup linebacker job but also pushes his way into a role on special teams next fall with his high motor, high football IQ, toughness, and great tackling technique that is very important on kick and punt coverage.
Dylan Rivers won't be a starter next year with Andrew Motuapuaka and Tremaine Edmunds both back next year but with Motuapuaka being gone after 2017 and Edmunds possibly leaving after 2017 if his draft stock is high enough or sticking around through his senior season in 2018.
However, Rivers has a tremendous football IQ, great toughness, awareness, and a high motor that makes him look like the favorite to be the starting mike linebacker in 2018 or be a starter by no later than 2019 whether that be at the mike linebacker or backer spot. Rivers has a high ceiling and reminds me a lot of guys like Jack Tyler and Chase Williams except Rivers has the athleticism and size that Tyler and Williams didn't have.
Dylan Rivers was a huge get for the Hokies and has the potential to be a very good linebacker for Bud Foster as someone who is an extremely good run defender and has a lot of upside in pass coverage. The only question may be about the level of competition Rivers faced but he shows on film that he could have been a star and a four-star recruit in plenty of other places where the competition is higher.
The biggest headline about Dylan Rivers may have been that he flipped from Penn State to Virginia Tech, but the biggest headline in the long run likely will be about how good of a linebacker he becomes in Blacksburg.
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