As spring football continues in Blacksburg, one Hokie making tremendous strides is Jalen Stroman. The younger brother of former Virginia Tech standout CB and punt returner Greg Stroman has shown plenty of promise so far playing in all 24 games over the past two seasons.
This past fall, Stroman transitioned into a larger role on the back end of the Hokies' defense spending time at both safety position while also being Tech's top nickelback though that sometimes meant him coming in at safety with Chamarri Conner sliding into that nickelback spot.
Stroman recorded 43 total tackles, fourth on the team, with 22 of them being solo tackles in 2022. He also made a few splash plays on the back side, recording two forced fumbles and two pass deflections last season.
While Stroman showed plenty of promise with some highlight moments last season, he's showing more consistency this spring.
“He’s made tremendous improvements, he was a guy that flashed and made some plays but also there were plays he left on the field when he was too loose or sloppy. He’s really cleaned that up.” head coach Brent Pry said on Stroman’s development.
The highlight of Stroman’s sophomore campaign came in the Hokies 20-14 home loss against Miami. He notched 11 total tackles, five of them being solos, and had one of his two pass deflections in coverage for the year.
The versatility of Stroman is what made him such a key piece of the Hokies' defense last year while also giving him some valuable experience to prepare him to become a starter for the Hokies in 2023.
“Those reps that he took at safety last year with the nickel package were very valuable. Those are experiences he can bring into this season.” safeties coach Pierson Prioleau said on Stroman’s development.
With one of last year's starters at safety Chamarri Conner being NFL bound, Stroman was in position to take over the starting job as long as he at least maintained his current development rate. So far this spring, Stroman has stayed on track and then some with his development to ensure that he's a starter this fall going above and beyond to ensure that he gets his starting chance.
“He was one of those guys who was gone for three or four days over Christmas break. Then he was back here begging them to get the weight room open and train,” Pry said. “He’s had a great offseason and put together a really nice spring.”
For Stroman, the on-field development is clearly at hand, but so too is his voice in the locker room as a leader. After another year, Stroman is a junior and an upperclassman on a defense with a lot of young talent.
“It’s been a journey, knowing I need to be a leader and step up to help this defense is fun. It’s all come a lot easier, learning behind Chamarri (Conner) last year and Nasir (Peoples) now too, growing behind them.” Jalen Stroman said.
Currently, Stroman is working more at free safety compared to the boundary safety spot. Though he didn’t start there at all last year, Stroman did still get a handful of reps working at the backend of the defense in 2022.
“I like it, it’s really comfortable to me now. I can move around and have fun over there.” Stroman said.
For advice, Stroman has turned to the veterans in the locker room such as redshirt senior Nasir Peoples. Additionally, Stroman has a strong relationship with Pierson Prioleau and has reached out to his brother and former Hokie Greg for help on learning the position and furthering his development at safety.
“I’ve always been talking to coach Prioleau and he’s walked me through it, teaching me little things and techniques. Talked to my brother about it as well.” Stroman said.
The sage wisdom of his NFL older brother, along with the hard work Jalen Stroman is putting in during the offseason will surely pay big dividends in the fall when Hokies football returns to the gridiron. In the meantime, watch out for Stroman to show off his continued development as a complete player in Tech’s spring game on April 15th in Lane Stadium.