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Three Thoughts on Virginia Tech's Spring Transfer Portal Window So Far

Demetrius Hill 1 VT Visit May 2023

Virginia Tech has been busy in the spring transfer portal window even if they are only looking to add a few players in this spring window. Tech has already made a splash at defensive end landing talented Florida edge rusher Antwaun Powell-Ryland while they are actively looking to add 1-2 more offensive linemen and a defensive back at minimum.

So with that said, here are three thoughts on where things currently stand for the Hokies in the transfer portal.

1. Antwaun Powell-Ryland is a Great Pickup for the Hokies

One thing that we've learned early in the transfer portal era is that the spring window (or spring timeframe) usually doesn't have the same depth of talent as the fall window. That makes what the Hokies did landing Florida edge Antwaun Powell-Ryland even more impressive given the lack of quality depth in the trenches in this portal cycle.

Tech had a clear need for a pass rusher and Powell-Ryland certainly fills what Brent Pry was looking for at defensive end. He put up an impressive 84.5 pass rushing grade per Pro Football Focus and an overall grade in the low 70s. Additionally, Powell-Ryland put up some impressive at the end of Florida's regular season when he got some starting opportunities for the Gators.

Over his final five 2022 regular season games, Powell had 20 tackles including 5.5 for loss with 3 sacks plus 2 forced fumbles. He also had at least 1 tackle for loss in four of those five games showing lots of consistency during that period. The five teams Powell played against during that stretch: Georgia, Florida State, South Carolina, Texas A&M, and Vanderbilt. That's quite good.

Some may look at the ratings from national sites like 247 Sports' 86 and not be too impressed, but what you've already done also matters and what Powell-Ryland has done in the SEC is more than what most have done in lesser leagues that are ranked higher in the portal.

Tech needed an edge rusher and they got one of the best available in Antwaun Powell-Ryland who instantly upgrades the DE group in a big way and creates a fascinating competition for the other starting DE job.

2. FIU S Demetrius Hill Fits Well With What Tech's Looking For

It feels like Virginia Tech is always looking for another defensive back even at times where DB doesn't feel anywhere near being one of Tech's top needs.

However, depth at safety is a concern with the Hokies having converted WR Jaylen Jones, a still recovering from injury Devin Alves, and inexperienced true freshmen behind projected starters Nasir Peoples and Jalen Stroman.

Long term, Tech has things set up seeming well at free safety with Stroman for the next couple years before likely Braylon Johnson. There's more opportunity at the strong safety spot with Peoples only having one year left and plenty of room for competition after that for that starting job.

That's where FIU Freshman All-American Demetrius Hill fits well as more of a strong safety type who is really good in the box and solid in coverage with plenty of upside and three years of eligibility remaining.

Hill would give the Hokies the type of experienced depth that they need in 2023 while having a chance to push to see if he can force his way into a starting safety job. Long term, he'd be in great position to be a starting safety of the future for the Hokies alongside Stroman in 2024 with a year of Power 5 experience under his belt at that point as well.

Of course, Tech still needs to close out Hill who has visited Blacksburg but hasn't made a decision at this point with Illinois most notably joining his offer list recently. If they can though, Hill would be a very good fit given what the Hokies need at DB.

3. Offensive Line Targets in Focus

Offensive line may be one of the thinnest positions in the transfer portal in terms of quality Power 5 talent with Tech's top target Troy Everett recently choosing Oklahoma over the Hokies. The Power 5 demand/need usually outweighs the talent available in the spring window with the Hokies being quick to pivot to their next target on the interior while also seeing their top offensive tackle target emerge.

Harvard's All-Ivy League First Team OL Mason Williams has emerged as the top interior target as the Hokies look to bring in ideally a starting upgrade at right guard over current options Jesse Hanson and Bob Schick. Williams may not have high level experience, but he has proven himself at the lower levels and should at worst provide good depth and competition while also having two years of eligibility remaining to develop further.

The Hokies also seem in a strong position as long as they have room with the top competition being Memphis and Colorado State. Williams plans to visit Virginia Tech next weekend on Friday and Saturday with a trip to Memphis right after that the following two days while he has also already visited CSU.

Tech also could use more quality depth on the offensive line including at offensive tackle with two-time All-Big South First Team OT Clayton Frady out of Gardner-Webb emerging as Tech's top target.

Frady has tons of experience as a starter for the past three seasons at GWU while his Pro Football Focus grades have improved steadily each year jumping into the 70s overall this past season. He also has two years of eligibility remaining so he isn't a rental guy but someone that Tech can build around. He also could immediately battle Xavier Chaplin and Parker Clements for one of the two starting offensive tackle jobs as well giving the Hokies some improved depth at worst.

The Hokies do have some decent competition for him with Duke and App State having hosted him already on visits. Cincinnati is also involved and hosting him before he takes a visit to Virginia Tech next weekend overlapping with Mason Williams.

Williams and Frady may not be splashy guys, but they are proven guys at the FCS level who could at least provide some quality depth for the Hokies next season. If they are unable to land one or both and are still looking for OL beyond them, the Hokies would be wise to focus on guys who have one year of eligibility left and can be rentals without affecting future scholarship allocations.

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