The long offseason is mercifully drawing to a close, and Virginia Tech football is ready to return. The Hokies travel up to Chestnut Hill to face Boston College for an ACC matchup to kick off the season. Fans are salivating for the return of football after a subpar 2018 season filled with turmoil, and it seems like the players are also ready to prove last year was a fluke.
“I’m just ready to play honestly,” sophomore receiver Tre Turner said. “Saturday is a big opponent, but we’re ready. I’m not going to say I recommend a high-profile opponent; I don’t care who we play. I just want to go 1-0.”
Turner is a part of one of the more highly anticipated groups on the Hokies’ roster this season. Last year’s wide receivers saw flashes of talent from younger guys like Turner, but now the group looks ready to fulfill its full potential. This position is inspiring a lot of optimism for the Hokies’ offense in 2019.
“In the receiving room, we hold each other at a higher level,” junior receiver Hezekiah Grimsley said. “As a whole offense, obviously last year was last year. Knowing that in the back of our mind, we don’t want to be in that same position. Everybody is pushing each other and trying to better each other.”
The players that caused the issues on offense last season have moved on, and now the offense can focus on the future. Part of that future is true freshman Tayvion Robinson. The coaching staff has raved about Robinson during camp, and he finds himself second on the depth chart at slot receiver. He should have an immediate role in the slot behind Grimsley.
“Throughout the whole period of camp, Tayvion just came, put his head down and went to work every day,” Turner said. “In the receiving room, we hold each other accountable, so if you’re not working hard, we’re going to tell you. We never had to tell him to go hard.”
Some true freshmen will be expected to contribute immediately, including Robinson. He’ll be thrown into the fire just like the three freshmen defensive tackles, Norell Pollard, Josh Fuga, and Mario Kendricks. All three are listed on the depth chart and figure to get significant playing time early in the season. After the loss of Ricky Walker to graduation, Jarrod Hewitt was the only starting caliber tackle on the roster. He will start alongside junior college transfer DaShawn Crawford, but the freshmen will be expected to pick up the slack fast.
“Those guys came in ready to learn, ready to adapt, and just really fill in to where they needed to be,” Hewitt said. “Norell is a kid that has some serious ability. Once he just locks in and learns the defense more, he’s going to become a serious player. Mario and Fuga are big, strong guys that really came in and took the role of following. We’re really excited about all three of them.”
Football is just days away, and the Hokies are eager to play. The game on Saturday will be a large test for this team entering the season, but everybody is just ready to see the Hokies take the field again.
“I said two days ago that I could smell in the air that it was getting to football time,” sophomore linebacker Dax Hollifield said. “The smell is different, it feels different, everybody is back. This is why I came to Tech. Fall is my favorite time of year, it’s football season, and I just can’t wait to head into it.”