News With Commentary by TSL Staff

Thursday, August 26, 2004
by Chris James,

Depth Chart Takes Shape as Hokies Prepare to Face USC

After spring practice, summer conditioning, and three weeks of practice in the sweltering August heat, it appears that most of Virginia Tech’s position battles have been settled. Let’s take a look, position by position, as the Hokies prepare for their season-opening clash with the USC Trojans.

Wide Receiver: At the starting wideout spots, the Hokies ended preseason practice exactly as they started, with Chris Clifton at split end and Josh Hyman at flanker.

21-year old r-freshman Josh Hyman has yet to take a college snap, but his maturity helped him land the starting spot. It’s amazing that at 21 years of age Hyman has yet to take a college snap. Compare that to Michael Vick, who was finished with his college career and was on his way to becoming the #1 pick in the NFL draft at that age. Behind Hyman are Richard Johnson and Eddie Royal. Royal, perhaps the most highly touted recruit of the 2004 class, will see a lot of action in his first collegiate game. David Clowney, slowed by injury this preseason, is listed as #3 (fourth flanker) behind them.

Behind Clifton at split end are true freshmen Josh Morgan and Justin Harper. Morgan's progress has been slowed by a foot injury, but he has a bright future and should be close to full-speed Saturday. Harper will see significant playing time this year, as well.

Fullback: At fullback, both Jesse Allen and John Kinzer are tied on the depth chart…at 2nd string. There is no player listed as the first string fullback, which means that this job is wide open. Kinzer will get the start Saturday, but long term, either Allen or Kinzer still has the opportunity to step up and be the main guy. If neither player steps up, then the starter could vary from week to week.

Offensive Line: Will Montgomery will remain as the starting center for now. After it appeared that Tripp Carroll was making headway at the position, which would have allowed Montgomery to move back to guard, Carroll was injured. Recently the staff has been complimentary of Danny McGrath, so it’s possible that he could get a look as the starter. As of now, Montgomery is the starter, with McGrath listed as 2nd string, and Carroll listed as injured. In other offensive line news, Brandon Gore has been moved to left tackle. Starting left guard Reggie Butler is listed as the 2nd string backup to Jimmy Martin at LT, but Gore provides depth there now, as well.

Defensive Line: Along the DL, the biggest news is that Jim Davis will see a lot of time at defensive tackle. Davis could move from tackle to end and back through the course of the game, and he will probably see more snaps than any other defensive lineman. Currently he is listed as co-starter with Kevin Lewis at nose tackle.

Also of interest is that Jason Lallis is now listed as the backup defensive end to Darryl Tapp and is not listed at all at defensive tackle.

Linebacker: R-freshmen Vince Hall and Xavier Adibi continue to put the pressure on Mikal Baaqee and Blake Warren. Hall is currently listed 2nd at Mike linebacker, but Baaqee is battling an injury, so Hall will certainly see a lot of playing time. Adibi and Warren are listed as co-starters on the latest depth chart. Regardless of who starts, Hall and Adibi will see the field early and often on Saturday night.

Placekicker: Brandon Pace has clearly won the job at place kicker. After an inconsistent spring, Pace has really come on during the month of August and separated himself from backup Nick Schmitt. True freshman Jared Develli will handle kickoffs. He has reportedly been booming kickoffs deep into the end zone during practices.

As of now, it is unclear who will be handling punt return and kickoff return duties. The name being throw around the most is Eddie Royal. But when it comes down to it, will Beamer want a true freshman in his first college game returning kicks against the defending national champs? Other possibilities as punt returner are Jimmy Williams and Richard Johnson. The Hokies will likely use two kickoff returners, and besides Royal the coaches can choose Richard Johnson or Robert Parker. Mike Imoh is the obvious choice when he returns from suspension.

Other Notes

  • According to this article, “Enter Sandman” will be played when the Hokies take the field against USC on Saturday night.

  • Public parking lots open at 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon at FedEx Field. For more information on parking, see our BCA Classic FAQ page.

  • At of 6 p.m. Wednesday evening, Virginia Tech is listed as 17.5 point underdogs to USC.

  • Be sure and print out our handy BCA roster card (PDF format) and take it with you to the game. Print out several copies and distribute them to friends, total strangers, or even USC fans.

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