Virginia Tech will be forced to play a lot of young players this fall due to the exodus of eight NFL draft picks from the 2007 senior class. That means there are a lot of new names and faces that will be on the field for the Hokies this fall.
Here is a look at the five freshmen players to keep in eye on this year.
5. Linebacker Quillie Odom
Quillie was the first player to give their verbal commitment to the coaches of Virginia Tech for the 2007 recruiting class. Since then, he has gone from somebody most Tech fans have never heard of to the next Xavier Adibi.
Odom had to spend a year at a prep school called Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, VA, but he is now fully enrolled in classes at Virginia Tech. Quillie will spend this year backing up starting LB Purnell Sturdivant, in hopes to earn the starting spot in 2009.
4. Running Back Ryan Williams
Ryan Williams was regarded as one of the top, if not the top, running backs in the nation for the class of 2008. Ryan comes into this season hoping that he can find some playing time at tailback, but that may not be easy, with an already crowded backfield, thanks to the departure of Brandon Ore.
Williams ran for over 1,500 yards in his junior year of high school and rushed for 650 while battling an ankle sprain in his senior year.
3. Wide Receiver Dyrell Roberts
The Hokies aren’t known for developing talent at wide receiver, but Tech has put five wide receivers in the NFL in the last two seasons. Obviously, that is the dream of Dyrell Roberts, who figures to be the Hokies' deep threat at wide receiver this year.
With Brandon Dillard out of the year with a ruptured Achilles, Dyrell and a few other freshman wideouts will be called upon to fill the void. According to a few state of Virginia recruiting sites, Roberts was ranked as the top player in the state of Virginia in the class of 2008.
2. Running Back Darren Evans
Not too many players can say that they’ve scored 61 touchdowns...even less can say that they’ve done it in one season. Evans accomplished that feat in his senior year of high school, as he led his team to a fourth-straight state championship.
The starting running-back job is completely up for grabs after juniors Kenny Lewis and Jahre Cheeseman missed time in the spring with injuries.
Evans received the most reps after both of those players went down and showed everybody that he could be a leader on this team. Mr. Evans may very well earn the starting job if he continues to play well once fall practices starts up.
1. Offensive Tackle Blake DeChristopher
Blake has all the tools necessary to become a future first-round pick in the NFL. He easily wrapped up the starting job at right tackle during the spring and held the Hokies best defensive end Jason Worilds in check in the spring game this past April.
As bad as Virginia Tech’s offensive line has been the last few years, I would expect it to take a big leap forward this fall, thanks in a large part to the emergence of DeChristopher at the right-tackle position.