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Takye Heath, Xayvion Turner-Bradshaw Set to Battle for Virginia Tech's Backup Slot Wide Receiver Job

Xayvion Turner Bradshaw 1 VT NC State 2023 From VT
Photo Credit: Virginia Tech Athletics

Virginia Tech has a clear #1 slot wide receiver for the 2024 season, with Jaylin Lane returning after having 41 catches for 538 yards and six touchdowns in 2023. However, the Hokies do have a clear opening behind him on the depth for the backup slot receiver, especially with Da'Wain Lofton leaving Virginia Tech and transferring to Boise State.

There are also two clear candidates to step into the backup wide receiver role for the Hokies in 2024: redshirt freshman Takye Heath and redshirt sophomore Xayvion Turner-Bradshaw.

Much of the focus will rightly be on Heath, especially given the fact that the former Highland Springs HS standout was set to have the chance to contribute for the Hokies last season. However, that plan got derailed quickly when Heath suffered an injury on the first play of his collegiate career against Rutgers.

For WRs coach Fontel Mines, he can't remember seeing a player suffer an injury on the first play of the collegiate career. However, he also thinks that Heath being forced to watch things this past season rather than be able to be on the field was a good thing for his development.

"That’s probably a first for me. Just a freshman who hurt himself on his first college play. You want to talk about dealing through some adversity and some hard times, that’s what he endured this year. He had an opportunity to sit back and watch and learn from a different view. That’s something he’s probably never done in his life. He’s kind of always been the alpha. So it was good for him. Obviously, it was a little struggle in that moment because we had a plan for him and playing him," Mines said. "I think this year allowed him to mature a bunch."

Now that Heath is healthy again, he will have every chance to show why he was highly regarded by those who got to see him in high school. I was among those impressed by his quickness and shiftiness when I saw a Highland Springs game in person in 2022.

Fontel Mines also has plenty of praise for Heath's talent and how complete of a receiver he is.

"The kid’s talented: route-for-route, one-on-ones, having the ability to get himself open, the shiftiness, the short area quickness. He can do all those things," Mines said.

Heath will have plenty of competition from a man who may be the fastest player on the team: Xayvion Turner-Bradshaw.

The Bluefield, VA native didn't play much but made a couple of big plays when he did get the ball, having four carries for 73 yards plus a nine-yard reception, showing off his impressive speed in the process.

There's no doubt that Turner-Bradshaw has tons of potential, but part of him taking the next step will be becoming more consistent. Additionally, Fontel Mines is looking for Turner-Bradshaw to fine-tune his receiver skills and his understanding of how to operate in VT's offense this offseason.

"I think [becoming more consistent]’s going to be really important for him in the offseason. I think that’s going to be an intriguing battle to watch, him and Takye. They’re going to better each other for sure. But he’s just got to continue to work on the fine-tuning of being a receiver: route-running, post-snap adjustments, pre-snap alignments. It’s just the little things that comes with being a freshman and sophomore when it comes to playing the position," Mines said.

The backup slot receiver battle won't get the spotlight that other competitions will get this offseason. Still, the Hokies have a fascinating battle on their hands between Takye Heath and Xayvion Turner-Bradshaw. The winner of this competition will also be in the driver's seat to replace Jaylin Lane as the starter in the slot in 2025.

Don't be surprised if this competition goes beyond the spring and into fall camp given the talent both have shown.

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