Virginia Tech Football: 5 Freshmen the Hokies Can Build Around
After coming off a disappointing 7-6 season, their worst in 20 years, many Virginia Tech fans wondered how well the Hokies would do in recruiting. Would high school players have a change of heart and bail on the Hokies and re-open their recruiting? It was a reasonable question, but the Hokies answered not only with coaching changes but arguably one of the best recruiting classes in recent school history.
Now that we are almost a week removed from national signing day, we can begin to take a look at some of the freshmen the Hokies signed and how they will impact the program moving forward.
In all, the Hokies signed 19 players. Included in those 19 are two quarterbacks, four offensive linemen and up to seven in the secondary once coaches determine where some will play.
Here is a look at five freshmen the Hokies can build around over the next three to five years.
Cornerback Kendall Fuller
Fuller is one freshman who should play in 2013. Depth at the cornerback position was an issue in 2012, and although last year’s freshmen are more experienced, they’re not as talented as Fuller.
Antone Exum’s knee injury in late January will also allow Fuller to get on the field sooner. Exum may be ready for the first game, but the Hokies will not push it, especially with Fuller waiting in the wings.
Fuller is the type of player who will attract national attention. A consensus 5-star recruit, he will get some of the other top players in the country to take notice of Virginia Tech.
Safety Holland Fisher
Fisher may or may not be on the field in 2013, and much of that depends on if he qualifies. However, he is the one player in this class who could overtake Fuller as the top recruit signed this year.
With excellent size (6’2”, 205 lbs.), Fisher is also fast and shows an incredible knack for diagnosing plays before the ball has been snapped. He will start out at safety and will likely stay there as he is solid in coverage in addition to being a bone-crushing hitter.
Fisher alone will make Fuller and the other cornerbacks’ jobs much easier as he will bring a presence to the secondary it hasn’t seen in several years.
Quarterback Bucky Hodges
At 6’5”, 230 pounds, Hodges looks physically ready to play right away. However, his mechanics need some work, but he is more advanced than Logan Thomas was his first year on campus. Remember, Thomas came to the Hokies as a tight end although he played quarterback in high school.
Hodges has a big arm and the athletic ability teams crave from the quarterback position these days. He won’t remind anyone of Michael Vick, but that’s not the type of player he is. He is a pocket-passer who can beat you with his legs if he sees nothing open downfield.
Hodges has a chance to grow with new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler while redshirting this season and watching Thomas. It couldn’t be a better situation for him. With several young receivers on the roster, Hodges can work with them to develop timing and chemistry while looking ahead to 2014 and beyond.
Defensive End Wyatt Teller
Wyatt Teller, along with one of last year’s top signees, Ken Ekanem, form an outstanding pair of defensive ends.
The Hokies are deep at the position for now, as James Gayle returned to school. Behind Gayle, the Hokies have several other upperclassmen, so Teller will not be expected to contribute right away.
However, in 2014 the Hokies lose Gayle, J.R. Collins, Tyrel Wilson and the other starter opposite Gayle, Corey Marshall, will be a senior.
Once defensive coordinator Bud Foster and defensive line coach Charley Wiles coach Teller for a year, he has the chance to be a dominant force both rushing the passer and the stopping the run. Physically, he is ready to play immediately.
Offensive Tackle Parker Osterloh
At 6’8”, 300 pounds, Osterloh obviously has impressive size. He was dominant in high school, but that was to be expected from the level of competition he faced.
The most surprising thing about Osterloh is his athleticism. Most players his size would rely solely on power, but Osterloh has impressive movement for someone of his size. He has played tight end in the past.
New offensive line coach Jeff Grimes will be looking hard at the four freshmen offensive linemen, and Osterloh, along with Jonathan McLaughlin, enrolled in January. Both have a chance to be in the rotation in 2013.
The Hokies have some holes on the offensive line, and Osterloh as an opportunity to be a cornerstone for the future and help reestablish an attitude along the offensive line that has been missing in recent seasons.