2005 VT Football Preview: The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

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The strength of Virginia Tech’s offense, and possibly of
the entire team, is the outstanding corps of wide receivers and tight ends. The
Hokies will go five, possibly six deep at wide receiver, and have two very good
tight ends. Bryan Stinespring and Marcus Vick certainly have a lot of options on
the outside.

The
most impressive thing about this group is that there is only one senior, Jeff
King, and one junior, David Clowney. There was a big time youth movement at wide
receiver in 2004, and with a year of experience under their belts, this group
should be ready to explode in 2005 with Vick playing quarterback.

Split End

Josh Hyman, r-So., 5-11, 189

Hyman was a major part of Virginia Tech’s success in
2004. He made big plays from start to finish, including scoring VT’s only
touchdown in the opener against USC, and scoring two touchdowns against UVA.
Hyman has very good hands, but what stands out is his excellent balance, body
control, and ability to attack the football and catch it at its highest point.
See his second touchdown reception against UVA as a reference. Hyman will begin
the 2005 season as the favorite to keep his starting position at split end.
Hyman caught 27 passes for 491 yards and five touchdowns last year.

Josh Morgan, So., 6-1, 215

Morgan only caught 15 passes as a true freshman in 2004,
but they generally went for big plays. Those 15 receptions went for 346 yards,
an average of 23.1 yards per catch, and three touchdowns. Morgan is a big target
in the David Boston mold. He catches the ball well, but must continue to work on
the little things.

Justin Harper, So., 6-3, 210

Justin Harper is a young, talented wide receiver with a
lot of potential. He is very fast, running a 4.36 in the 40 yard dash. He also
has excellent hands and appears to be a natural receiver. In retrospect, he
should have redshirted last season, as he caught only five passes for 84 yards.
Three of those receptions came against Western Michigan when the game was
already decided. Harper may end up being the best of Tech’s young receiving
corps.

Flanker

Eddie Royal, So., 5-10, 171



Smallish but quick and fast, Eddie Royal was the most
advanced of Tech’s true freshman receivers in 2004. Royal showed that he was
mature enough to handle being a starter, despite being only 18 years old. Royal
can burn corners deep, make plays in space, and generally catches the ball if it
is thrown near him. He caught 28 passes for 470 yards and three touchdowns in
2004.

David Clowney, Jr., 6-1, 175

Among all of Tech’s receivers, David Clowney poses the
greatest threat to beat the cornerback deep. Clowney possesses great speed and
quickness and has good hands. He’s tall and lanky, so he’s not a very strong
guy, but he knows how to get open and can make some athletic plays. He caught 20
passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns last season. He is the only Tech wide
receiver to ever play in a game with Marcus Vick, catching a 27 yard touchdown
pass from Vick in 2003 against Central Florida.

Jeremy Gilchrist, r-Fr., 5-9, 181

Jeremy Gilchrist is the forgotten man of the wide receiver
corps. He is the shortest of Virginia Tech’s receivers and isn’t a speed
burner either. However, he makes up for it by having outstanding hands and
running very good routes. A solid possession receiver who should improve his
speed as his career progresses.

Tight End

Jeff King, r-Sr., 6-5, 253

Jeff King is arguably the ACC’s best returning tight
end, and one of the best tight ends in the nation. King has a future in the NFL.
After years of never properly utilizing the tight end, the VT coaching staff
decided to unleash King in 2004, and he responded by catching 25 passes for 304
yards and four touchdowns. He is entrenched in his starting role and should have
a big season.

Duane Brown, r-So., 6-5, 278

The biggest, most athletic tight end Virginia Tech has
ever had. Brown saw 157 offensive plays as Tech’s third tight end in 2004, and
is ready to assume and even greater role this season. Early indications are that
Brown is one of Marcus Vick’s favorite targets. King and Brown form one of the
best tight end combinations in the country.

John Kinzer, r-So, 6-2, 245

Kinzer began his career as a tight end, then switched to
fullback in 2004. He spent much of the season injured, and finds himself back at
tight end for 2005. Kinzer will see most of his snaps in goal line situations.
The Hokies also have the option to utilize Kinzer in an H-back type role with
his experience at both fullback and tight end.

Newcomers

Virginia Tech’s only wide receiver signee, Hampton High
School product Todd Nolen, will not play for the Hokies this year. Nolen will go
to prep school and enroll at Tech in 2006. Ed Wang and Sam Wheeler will be
playing tight end for the Hokies. Wang is big and athletic, getting good
athletic genes from his parents, who were members of the Chinese Olympic Team.
Wheeler is a local product from Blacksburg High School. Both will likely
redshirt this season, though Wang is significantly ahead of Wheeler at this
point.

Overall Rating

I give the wide receivers and tight ends an overall grade
of an A-. The only reason I don’t give this group an A or A+ is that
the majority of them are sophomores. They have not reached their ceiling, and
they will likely not reach it in 2005 either. 2005 should be very good for this
group, but even better days are ahead. If Vick is still the quarterback in 2006,
and if the Hokies can develop a tight end to back up Duane Brown, the 2006
passing game has a chance to be the best ever seen by a Virginia Tech team.

Previews/Grades
Thus Far
Quarterbacks
(8/2/05)
B
Running Backs
(8/4/05)
B+
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends (8/9/05) A-

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