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Three Hokies On The Rise After Virginia Tech's 36-17 Victory Over Old Dominion

Jaylin Lane 1 VT ODU 2023 From VT
Photo Credit: Virginia Tech Athletics

Week 1 has come and gone with Virginia Tech shifting their focus fully onto Purdue following their 36-17 victory over Old Dominion. The game saw plenty of quality performances with several guys either raising their profile among Tech's coaches and/or doing so among Hokie fans.

So which Hokies are on the rise after week 1 heading into Saturday's matchup with the Boilermakers? Here's a look at three Hokies who are on the rise.

TE Benji Gosnell

With Nick Gallo out for the season, Virginia Tech is going to need their younger tight ends to step up with no one more in line to do just that redshirt freshman Benjj Gosnell especially after his solid debut vs ODU.

Gosnell had a 23-yard reception in this game while playing 59 of 74 snaps compared to DaeQuan Wright only getting 20 snaps. Gosnell also looked competent as a blocker especially on the "perimeter runs" via HB swing passes and screens that helped keep the Hokies on schedule with their rushing attack struggling mightily.

We saw greater affirmation of Gosnell's rise on Tuesday when Gosnell was listed as the clear starting TE over DaeQuan Wright following the news that Nick Gallo was out for the season. Gosnell had worked often as the second traditional in-line tight end during fall camp with Wright being used plenty as a slot receiver. Gosnell showed against ODU though that he can be a receiving threat beyond checkdowns and a similar snap split seems definitely possible going forward.

For now though, Gosnell has ascended to being the lead tight end following Gallo's injury and over DaeQuan Wright with Gosnell showing plenty of flashes of his massive potential in the opener vs ODU.

WR Jaylin Lane

Jaylin Lane may have flown under the radar for Hokie fans given the headline transfer portal addition of Ali Jennings, but the Middle Tennessee State transfer showed this past week that he is going to be a problem for opposing DBs throughout the season.

Lane had 4 catches for 69 yards and a touchdown this game giving ODU's secondary all sorts of issues with his game-breaking speed. A defensive pass interference also prevented him from a possible second touchdown while he also could have had another catch on a slant early on that was a little behind him, but also kind of a drop as well.

Lane primarily worked out of the slot, but also did some things on the perimeter that caused the biggest issues for ODU. His speed is also an undeniable nightmare for opponents and should give a weak Purdue secondary lots of issues this Saturday.

Lane might not have had the hype like Ali Jennings had, but he and Jennings have given the Hokies one of the better lead WR duos in the ACC to headline a truly revamped and upgraded WR room.

DE Antwaun Powell-Ryland

Antwaun Powell-Ryland may be a stretch to be on this list in some ways given the hype that was around him anyway, but APR had about as good of a debut as he could imagine.

APR had 6 tackles including 2 sacks plus a forced fumble in his debut on his way to earning our TLP Defensive Hokie of the Game honors. He put on a show with his pass rush ability while also providing some quality play on rush defense even if there likely is some room for him to improve as with the whole VT rush defense.

One of Brent Pry's top offseason priorities was to upgrade the Hokies' pass rush especially at defensive end given Tech's 2022 struggles and TyJuan Garbutt's graduation. APR proved to be just that providing a clearly improved pass rush for the Hokies to pair with Keyshawn Burgos who had a nice sack of his own as well.

Now it's one thing to put on a show against ODU, but it'll be another thing to do it against a Power 5 opponent, even one like Purdue. Then again, Tech fans can have a lot of confidence in what APR can do after he played well down the stretch for Florida with 20 tackles including 5.5 for loss over his final 5 regular season games in 2022 against a schedule that included Georgia, Florida State, South Carolina, Texas A&M, and Vanderbilt.

The APR hype proved true in the Hokies' season opener and there's no reason to think that APR will be slowing down anytime soon.

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