Silas Dzansi seemed on the verge of earning a starting job as a redshirt freshman after a breakout spring helped him rise to the top of the depth chart at left tackle. However, a late fall camp injury opened the door for Christian Darrisaw to claim the left tackle job as a true freshman and not let go of it.
During the fall, Dzansi shifted over a lot to right tackle filling in for Yosuah Nijman when the former Hokie was injured late in the season. With Nijman gone, the door is open for Dzansi to claim the starting right tackle job with offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen having high expectations for the redshirt sophomore going into the spring.
"Silas (Dzansi) came on towards the end of the year and is looking really good. We expect a good spring out of him on the edge," Cornelsen said in late February.
So far, Dzansi appears to be meeting those high expectations making large strides according to Vance Vice.
Part of that is likely due to the fact that Dzansi was able to gain some valuable experience especially at the end of last season. For a guy that was under 250 pounds coming out of high school and spent a year at Fork Union to bulk up, having a chance to actually play as a 300-pound player had to be valuable for learning how to handle that type of weight.
That experience playing at a much higher level and weight are two things that appear to be helping Silas Dzansi this spring according to Justin Fuente.
"He’s not only gone from playing different levels of football, but his body has changed a lot since he was in high school. He weighed 242 pounds on his visit here and there’s a lot that comes with moving around with that weight and learning to play at this level. He’s taken it all in stride and has not gotten discouraged, has just continued to work hard and do what we’ve asked him to do," Fuente said.
That transformation was profiled heavily last spring when he was first just starting to claim the job but now that he's had some time to adjust to playing at that type of weight, he appears to be taking the next strides in his development that the Hokies have been hoping for.
In addition to his athletic skill set, Dzansi's work ethic also hasn't flown under the radar of Justin Fuente.
“He’s worked extremely hard. He is a very mature young player. Not just physically mature, but emotionally mature. He really wants to please and wants to do well and is rapidly becoming one of the many leaders, not just in his [position] room, but on the team. I just think it’s been a maturation process for him.," Fuente said.
On a team that lost three senior starting offensive linemen, having a younger player like the redshirt sophomore Silas Dzansi fill the leadership guy is definitely a major positive for the future. Combine that with Dzansi's athletic upside and it's clear that he has the potential to be a Ricky Walker-type figure on the offensive line based on Fuente's comments.
Long term, Justin Fuente and Virginia Tech appears confident that the athletic Dzansi can have a very productive career for the Hokies both as a leader and as an offensive tackle.
"If he continues to do that, I think he has a chance to have a really bright future."
Photo Credit: Jake Roth
Stay up with The Tech Lunch Pail for the latest on Virginia Tech. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our email updates.