The 2017 season is a make or break year for several players on Virginia Tech’s roster, but maybe more so for Kyle Chung and Parker Osterloh.
Chung and Osterloh, both redshirt-seniors, are both in their final season of eligibility. Up to this point, both have battled nagging injuries for most of their career, and have struggled to make a consistent impact. This season is really their last chance to see the field in a starting role.
Lucky for them, there’s open playing time at right guard, and it seems like Chung and Osterloh are Virginia Tech’s top options.
“The competition, it’s amazing,” Chung said. “It feeds off of everybody. Up on the line, and among the whole team, everybody gets excited, everybody feeds off of each other. With that, we just become a better and better team every single day.”
For Chung, nagging shoulder injuries hindered his development. He was unable to lift for much of his early career, and finally feels like he’s been able to get ready to play physically.
“That was a big part of it, because I couldn’t really do any upper body stuff,” Chung said. “And I couldn’t hold a bar for a period of time, so I couldn’t really squat or anything. Once I recovered from that, I was able to get back into the swing of things and start to get bigger, faster, stronger too.”
Chung credits the current strength and conditioning staff, who have helped Chung make up for lost time. Chung was able to add weight over the summer under Ben Hilgart, and now finds himself competing for a starting position.
“It’s been a lot, and it’s been hard,” Chung said. “But with the coaching staff now, and the coaching staff before, it kind of helped me keep my head straight, and they just did all the right things, and I’m in a position where I can play. I’m healthy, I got a lot bigger over the summer, so I’m excited.”
“It’s tough, but (Chung) has the right mindset about it and he’s always working harder,” said left guard Wyatt Teller. “He’s in the weight room, he’s in the training room, he’s working hard to get better and stay healthy.”
Osterloh’s injuries have also held him back. This spring, Osterloh was out again with an ankle injury, which allowed others to compete for the open playing time. Osterloh was forced to sit and watch.
“That was definitely tough,” Osterloh said. “I hate being out there on the sideline, watching everybody get to go practice, and I can’t do anything.”
Despite his injury history, Osterloh says that he’s not worrying about going down again in his last year at Virginia Tech.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Osterloh said. “I can’t focus on that, or else I’m never going to get better. Really, the only thing I can do is go out and compete every day, and do my best. Injuries are part of the game, and hopefully it doesn’t happen.”
As he gets a look at right guard, Osterloh is also working at right tackle behind Tyrell Smith. Virginia Tech’s coaches have stated publicly that Smith is the leader at right tackle, but part of that was Osterloh’s absence.
“Well, I think the biggest thing was that Parker (Osterloh) didn’t go through the spring,” said Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente. “Getting Parker back out there to go compete for that job, I mean he’s a senior and he’d like to play. I’m looking forward to watching that competition.”
“He’s a team-first guy,” Teller said. “I’ve always thought highly of Parker. He’s my roommate, he’s a great guy. Another guy who had an injury last year, and has worked extremely hard to get better, and it’s showing. He’s practicing really hard.”
For Osterloh, working at multiple positions is nothing new. As someone who’s looking to get on the field, he welcomes it.
“It’s the third day of camp, and I’ve already been moved around a couple times,” Osterloh said. “I know that’s something Coach (Vance) Vice is known for, being pretty fluid for where he moves guys and seeing who could play where. I’ve been getting a little bit of everything already.”
“Coach’s thing is that everybody needs to know every position,” Teller said. “That means (Yosuah Nijman) needs to know the guard position, I need to know the left tackle, I need to know right tackle, I need to know center.”
With Smith the leader in the clubhouse at right tackle, Osterloh and Chung might be competing for one spot — right guard. However, if you ask the players, every spot on the line is open.
“My chances are as good as everybody else’s,” Chung said. “It’s a big competition for every spot on the line and every spot on this team. If I have the opportunity to work with the first team, I’ll try my hardest to get that spot.”
“Every position is wide open,” Teller said. “My position is wide open, we all know that. Let’s not get too carried away, alright. Center is still open, left guard is wide open… You can’t have a depth chart three days into camp.”