Back in December, I released my ranking of Virginia Tech's top 5 transfer portal needs as Brent Pry got settled in with the Hokies.
Since then, the Hokies have addressed two of the top 3 needs on this including the #1 need at QB landing Jason Brown from South Carolina and Grant Wells from Marshall. Meanwhile, Tech also made additions at the #3 of WR landing Temple's Jadan Blue and North Carolina's Stephen Gosnell.
So what are the Hokies' biggest transfer portal needs now that Tech has made some portal moves? Here's our ranking of the top needs for the Hokies.
Kicker was not a position I planned to include on here. However, with John Parker Romo heading off to pursue his professional opportunities, Virginia Tech has an opening and has shown signs that they are looking for an experienced kicker for 2022 while they develop younger guys.
One kicker that has popped up is Eastern Michigan grad transfer Chad Ryland who received an offer from the Hokies recently. He has also received offers from Maryland, West Virginia, Rutgers, and Liberty as arguably the top kicker currently available in the transfer portal.
The Hokies have some promising young kicking talent including 2022 signee John Love on their roster, but bringing in a experienced guy to shepherd the kicking side of the special teams room may not be a bad idea especially as special teams coordinator Stu Holt gets settled in with the Hokies.
Ryland would definitely fit the mold of a veteran kicker who could provide some leadership on special teams alongside 2021 Freshman All-American punter Peter Moore.
Kicker may not have been on most people's radar as a position of need in the transfer portal, but signs appear to be pointing towards the Hokies pursuing some grad transfer kicking options to allow younger guys to develop behind that guy.
Initially, I focused on this being just outside linebacker given the shift to a more traditional 4-3 defense, but this could vary depending on where Brent Pry and his defensive staff want to place Chamarri Conner in their new defense.
Conner is a safety by trade and would seem to be best fit at strong safety with Nasir Peoples, Jalen Stroman, and Keonta Jenkins battling for the free safety job. That would create a need at OLB with Dax Hollifield and Keshon Artis being mike linebackers by trade and Alan Tisdale being the only proven linebacker who is a natural fit at an OLB spot.
While Artis could absolutely be used in that other OLB role and have success, Tech would probably be best off trying to find a true OLB to pair with Alan Tisdale at the other OLB spot rather than cross-train Artis.
However, Conner has the size and frame to shift to a more full-time OLB role similar to what Divine Deablo has done in the NFL with the Las Vegas Raiders. That would open up the safety position some with Nasir Peoples, Jalen Stroman, and Keonta Jenkins headlining the competition for those spots.
If Conner was moved to OLB full-time, adding a veteran safety as Tech did with Tae Daley last offseason likely wouldn't be as high of a priority for the Hokies given the overall depth of that position being a little older than the OLB spot.
Of course, this is something where spring practice should prove valuable for Brent Pry and his staff evaluating both where Conner's best position is, and if Tech may have a second OLB ready to make a big jump like a Jaden Keller. If anything, this is somewhat of a wait and see situation for the Hokies unless there's a clear big time talent that they can land who enters the portal before the end of spring practice.
2. Defensive End
While Tech hasn't brought in a defensive player yet via the transfer portal, defensive end has jumped OLB as the top defensive need. That's due largely to the fact that Keshon Artis could be a stopgap even though he's a natural mike while Chamarri Conner has the size to be a true OLB and Tech has promise at safety with Jalen Stroman and Keonta Jenkins should the focus shift to safety.
Meanwhile, defensive end remains a place of concern as the Hokies do have a quality returning starter in TyJuan Garbutt but questions opposite of him. Cole Nelson and Mattheus Carroll have loads of promise but may not be ready to be starters in 2022 while Jaylen Griffin and Eli Adams are okay backups but haven't shown the consistent skills and productivity yet to have high confidence they can be ACC-level starting DEs.
Virginia Tech also appears to believe that defensive end is a need for them with DL coach J.C. Price recently following a pair of DEs in Miami (OH) standout Kam Butler and Texas A&M 6'7'' DE RJ Orebo. While it's unknown if the Hokies have made contact, it wouldn't be surprising given the need for at least a ACC quality starting stopgap at DE for the 2022 season which Butler would seem to fit the mold of given what he's done during his career at Miami.
Defensive end appears to be the top defensive line need at the moment as the Hokies could use a one-year jolt to allow younger guys to develop. However, Tech may be somewhat patient waiting for the right guy rather than anyone at least till the end of spring practice to see how young guys like Cole Nelson, CJ McCray, and Mattheus Carroll develop along with see if more experience players like Jaylen Griffin and Eli Adams make a big jump forward.
1. Offensive Line
While the offensive line hasn't gained a transfer portal addition this offseason to date, the Hokies did get a boost due to the fact that Johnny Jordan was granted an extra year of eligibility.
Center was the biggest question on the offensive line looking towards 2022 and Jordan is an instant answer for next season giving the Hokies more time to groom younger guys like Jack Hollifield and Bryce Goodner.
The Hokies still have need likely for a tackle over a guard though they can have a best available approach to some extent given the fact that Silas Dzansi has the versatility. Dzansi is likely a better fit at guard than tackle so tackle likely should be the priority with the Hokies having Parker Clements and a bunch of unknowns on the edge.
Tech has been heavily involved with Cornell OL Hunter Nourzad with the Hokies making the top 5 and Tech having a connection because Nourzad's OL coach was a GA at Penn State while Brent Pry was there. Of course, that could also be a big boost for Penn State who also made his top 5.
Part of what makes it seem clear that tackle is the priority is that Tech has shown more interest in guys who have played tackle than guards including UVA transfer Ryan Swoboda who did have plans to visit Virginia Tech before canceling them and choosing to go with home state UCF instead of the Hokies or fellow home state team Miami.
Joe Rudolph is also know for being meticulous and sending out not a lot of offers on the high school side of recruiting so it wouldn't be surprising to see Tech be meticulous and thorough in their transfer portal considerations for the OL.
What is clear though is the fact that Tech's greatest transfer portal need at this point rests on the offensive line with a veteran tackle likely being the top priority given the large amount of inexperience and youth.