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Virginia Tech’s Offense Has a Bright Future

By Dave Holcomb
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A couple of the program’s new freshmen are performing well during fall camp and could potentially carve out roles for the 2019 season.

Virginia Tech experienced a disastrous 2018 defensive season, so the focus this offseason around the Hokies has rightfully mostly been on improving that side of the ball. But it’s not as if the Virginia Tech offense was much better last year.

They were in the middle of the pack in most offensive categories categories in the ACC during 2018, and from last year’s roster, Virginia Tech lost its starting running back, Steven Peoples, and No. 2 receiver, Eric Kumah.

Fortunately for Hokies, a couple of the program’s new freshmen are performing well during fall camp and could potentially carve out roles for the 2019 season.

First, The Athletic’s Andy Bitter wrote wide receiver Tayvion Robinson “sounds like a true freshman who could get on the field.”

Tre Turner is the young wide receiver that is expected to experience a breakout season for Virginia Tech, but at the very least, Robinson could make an impact on special teams.

“Tayvion (Robinson), honestly, is a guy, and I think it’s also because of the role he could bring us on special teams and being a returner,” Hokies receivers coach Jafar Williams said according to The Athletic. “He’s in the mix right now at that position, and he’s doing a pretty good job as a young guy learning the technique of tracking punts and, also, catching the ball and all the things you need to know.”

Robinson played quarterback, running back and receiver as a senior in high school, so based on reports he’s still adjusting to practicing full time at wideout, but he’s performing well receiving repetitions behind Hezekiah Grimsley at slot receiver.

Grimsley was third among returning Virginia Tech wide receivers with 382 receiving yards last year. Kumah is gone, but Damon Hazelton is back, and he led the team with 51 receptions, 802 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.

Maybe Robinson won’t be anything more than the offense’s fourth wideout, but fellow receiver DeJuan Ellis entering the transfer portal should be viewed as another indication that Robinson is progressing well as a slot receiver. Ellis is another possible slot receiver for Virginia Tech, but Bitter reported he’s exploring transfer options, and that’s probably the case because Ellis believes Robinson is ahead of him on the depth chart.

At running back, freshman running back Keshawn King is also turning a few heads. Bitter reports he “sounds like the real deal.”

King arrived in Blacksburg as a 4-star prospect and the No. 23 running back in the 2019 recruiting class according to 247Sports. King was one of the top six recruits for the Hokies last year, so to hear he is already performing well is a huge win for the recruiting trail.

“He’s not sacred,” coach Justin Fuente said according to The Athletic. “I mean, he pours it up in there, and he’s got some elite quickness. He’s been fun to watch so far. We’ve got a lot of work to do with him, but he’s had a good camp so far.”

Perhaps what jumps out most from Bitter’s skinny on King, though, is he’s a willing blocker. That’s something, as long as he’s decent at it (in addition to being willing to do it) that could get him on the field quickly.

Peoples led the team with 158 carries, 786 rushing yards and six touchdowns, but he graduated and leaves behind a large hole. Rising junior Deshawn McClease and Jalen Holston will have the first opportunity to become the new starter, but Virginia Tech could certainly use another back to add to the mix.

Together, McClease and Holston posted 714 rushing yards and averaged 4.67 rushing yards per attempt as sophomores last year. If King’s blocking is truly further along than is the case with most freshmen, maybe a third-down role isn’t out of the question.
Either way, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see King record at least 50 carries as a freshman.

Again, Virginia Tech needs to fix its defense this season, but that hardly means the offense doesn’t need to make improvements too. Fuente arrived in Blacksburg as an offensive guru, but even during successful seasons during his Virginia Tech tenure, the Hokies have left something to be desired offensively.

King and Robinson are the beginning of the next wave of Virginia Tech playmakers that Fuente hopes can take his offense to the next level.