Virginia Tech’s Young Players Make Strides In Strength and Conditioning

Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech hit the practice field for the first time Friday (Will Stewart)

Young Virginia Tech Players Grow in the S&C Program

Virginia Tech put a lot of young players on the field for the first time last season, and many of them weren’t physically ready to play a lot of snaps in major college football games.  Players usually make their biggest strides in the strength and conditioning program early in their career, however, and anybody who saw practice on Friday could see that from a physical standpoint this 2019 team is a step ahead of the 2018 team.

“Physically, I do think we’ve got some guys that after another year of nutrition, another year of lifting, that look better,” head coach Justin Fuente told the media on Saturday afternoon.

Some players gained weight, and some players, such as Dax Hollifield, intentionally got lighter to increase their mobility.  Hollifield told the media on Thursday that he was 250 when he enrolled last summer (he played at about 245 during the season), and now he’s closer to 230.  The weight drop should help him in coverage against running backs this year. 

Besides the well-known players such as Hollifield, Fuente has also seen major strides from players who have yet to break into the playing rotation.  He specifically talked about two players who redshirted last season.

“Guys that maybe we haven’t talked about very much…Alan Tisdale to me continues to develop and improve his body,” Fuente said.  “Armani Chatman is another one on the defensive side of the ball that continues to develop and grow.” 

Tisdale, a backer, enrolled at 214 last year, but he’s up to 220 as a redshirt freshman despite missing last season with a shoulder injury.  Chatman, a redshirt freshman cornerback, is up to 195 from 183 and appears to be ready to mount a challenge for playing time.

“It’s fun to see those guys give themselves a chance through their hard work to have a chance to be players,” Fuente said.

Doug Nester Virginia Tech
As a true freshman Doug Nester (74) showed up at 6-6, 315 and looking physically ready to play. (Ivan Morozov)

The Freshmen Offensive Linemen

Each member of Virginia Tech’s four-man freshman offensive line class enrolled at over 300 pounds, and they are perhaps the most physically advanced offensive line recruiting class the Hokies have seen in quite some time.

Doug Nester was the prized recruit who flipped from Ohio State to Virginia Tech on Signing Day.  He enrolled at 6-6, 315.  Bryan Hudson, another 4-star prospect, is 6-4, 315.  Lord Botetourt’s Jesse Hanson checked in at 6-5, 301, while Will Pritchard is 6-2, 301.  They all look the part already, and they’ll continue to develop with the help of Vance Vice and Ben Hilgart.

On Friday, Nester worked out at right guard, with Hudson at right tackle.  Will Pritchard was at center, with Jesse Hanson at left guard.  However, we all know that Vice likes to experiment with his linemen at multiple positions to try and figure out their best fit and to improve versatility.

“I’d say it’s pretty fluid,” Fuente said. “We haven’t even put pads on.  I don’t know where they’ll end up.  Will’s probably a little more of a center body.  That was kind of our vision with him when we went through recruiting.  The other guys, we’ll just see, I don’t really know how it will all shake out.  We’re just trying to get them pointed in the right direction right now. “

Brock Hoffman
Here’s Brock Hoffman in a Coastal Carolina uniform. Virginia Tech has no idea yet if they’ll see him in a Hokies uniform this fall. (Coastal Carolina Chanticleers Athletics.)

Hoffman’s Status Still Uncertain

A big piece of Virginia Tech’s offensive line could potentially be Coastal Carolina graduate transfer Brock Hoffman.  Hoffman, who would be a junior this season, is waiting for word from the NCAA as to whether or not he’ll be eligible to play this season.

The Tech coaching staff has penciled in Hoffman has a probable starter at either center or guard.  However, at some point they’ll need to start narrowing down the reps for those who are most likely to play a major role.  They’d like some clarification from the NCAA so they’ll know exactly what to do with Hoffman when that time comes.

“Sooner rather than later would be good,” Fuente said when asked when he expected to hear back from the NCAA. “I haven’t projected forward my own thoughts as far as a drop dead date.  We’re all anxious to hear some good news.  We’ll continue to manage it, certainly get him a lot of reps, but also play both sides of the coin a little bit.  It’s early enough that it’s not a huge issue.”

However, after a couple of weeks of practice this month, Vice will begin to give the vast majority of practice reps to those players in the two-deep.  The Hokies will need to know by then whether or not Hoffman is eligible.  Despite the delay, Fuente claims that he still feels good about the situation.

“I’m optimistic,” he said, before joking. “I’m not sure why I’m optimistic, but I’m optimistic.”

23 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I remember the same article last year, showing all kinds of ripped players after being in the program only a short time. at some point, being jacked doesn’t equate to being good at football. prove it on the field.

    1. Huntington Ingalls Shipyard, Newport News, 757, says
      “Man the Line!”
      Go Hokies!

  2. The NCAA is a JOKE! It’s preposterous that they can’t render a decision on Hoffman after months of “deliberation”…Fuente isn’t saying much, and I understand why, but he has got to be pissed. I know I would be..No excuse for this dragging this long. None.

    1. They do this to reinforce their absolute power and control over all of college sports. The only persons that should be blamed is the university Presidents. They created and support this Mafioso outfit.

      Certain Universities are on the inside and get the greased slide treatment when it comes to exemptions, qualifying and punishments or lack thereof. Every one else is treated like the paupers we are. Reminds me of the dual justice system we live under- almost an exact duplication of the English system.

        1. +11 …
          why don’t we have “thumbs up” / “thumbs down” hyper-icon-buttons for article comments?

      1. You’re absolutely right. As with everything, the answer lies in following the money.

    2. The joke is the VT compliance department. Back in May they doubled down and filed an appeal to the medical hardship waiver that was denied instead of filing a general waiver request that hits on the fact that the head coach changed at Coastal. That type of general waiver has been approved multiple times this offseason for players dealing with coaching changes, meanwhile the NCAA has pretty much stuck to the letter of the rule for the medical waivers. In other words the medical waiver appeal is likely to fail and then the general waiver request would have to be filed and reviewed = taking all summer.

      The VT compliance department also declined assistance from a lawyer that helped Martell, Fields, etc get their waivers approved.

    3. I disagree that the ncaa is a joke!…Even a poor joke has some degree of humor or interest…There is NOTHING funny or of general interest about that bunch of over-stuffed pompous asses.. Not one dang thing!

      They just prove, once again, that playing by the “rules” and trying to do things the right way will only get you SPIT on by their corrupt group of incompetents!

    1. He was a 2-year starter at Coastal Carolina, so he has 2 years left. If memory serves, he still has a redshirt year available if he doesn’t get the waiver this year.

    1. We need more Doug Nester recruits!! Holy smokes!! THIS is what makes the Ohio States and Bama elite schools so blue blood. He is a GROWN MAN! Good gracious get some more dudes like that on both sides and VT is back regularly in champ games.

        1. Yes, I think that’s the difference between a 5 start/high 4 star recruit vs a 3 star. The higher stars seem more physically ready from day one. The 3 stars may get there but only after 1 – 2 years in the weight room.

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