Virginia Tech Football: LB Matt Johnson, TE Benji Gosnell Out For Season

Brent Pry has already had to deal with some injuries at Virginia Tech. (Jon Fleming)

On Wednesday, Virginia Tech head coach Brent Pry informed the media that walk-on linebacker Matt Johnson and tight end Benji Gosnell have suffered season-ending injuries.

“We were really excited about both those guys,” Pry said. “Matt was going to contribute on special teams and Benji was going to provide some good depth at tight end. He’s got a bright future here.”

A redshirt junior from Deep Run High School in Glen Allen, Va., Johnson played in four games last season, recording three tackles. In 2020, he did not play due to a knee injury. 

Gosnell, a true freshman from Meadows of Dan, Va., was part of Pry’s first recruiting class in Blacksburg. The Carroll County High School product enrolled early in January. A four-star prospect, Gosnell missed the majority of the 2021 high school season due to a torn ACL.

Practice Observations

Wide receiver Jadan Blue, who had slowly been making his way back to practice from injury, was a full-go on Wednesday. Running backs Jalen Holston and Malachi Thomas were not present, and neither was Sam linebacker Keli Lawson. Holston and Lawson were “unavailable” on Friday as well, while Thomas remains “week-to-week,” per Virginia Tech.

In the 15 minutes of practice that the media observed, the Hokies did some offense vs. defense drills up front. The offensive tackles battled the defensive ends and some onrushing blitzes from linebackers while the offensive guards held off the defensive tackles.

True freshman Xavier Chaplin looked solid against the likes of Dean Ferguson and Cole Nelson, while some of the other tackles like Bob Schick struggled. The offensive guards held up well against the defensive tackle duos of Mario Kendricks and Josh Fuga, Wilfried Pene and Norell Pollard, and Nigel Simmons (walk-on) and Malachi Madison.

Below are two of the groups that were repping together defensively. Note that some players that will have important roles in Tech’s two-deep, like Mario Kendricks, TyJuan Garbutt and C.J. McCray, were at practice and just appeared to be rotated out of the drill in the moment that the media observed.

Group One:

DL: Jaylen Griffin, Josh Fuga, Norell Pollard, Cole Nelson
LB: Keonta Jenkins (Sam), Dax Hollifield (Mike), Dean Ferguson (Will)
DB: Dorian Strong, Chamarri Conner, Nasir Peoples, Armani Chatman

Group Two:

DL: Keyshawn Burgos, Wilfried Pene, Nigel Simmons, Kyree Moyston
LB: J.R. Walker (S), Keshon Artis (M), Jaden Keller (W)
DB: DJ Harvey, Jalen Stroman, Ny’Quee Hawkins, Mansoor Delane

Plenty of Praise

Brent Pry, Sam linebacker Keonta Jenkins and center Johnny Jordan spoke with the media on Wednesday after practice. Here are some of the players that received praise:

OT Xavier Chaplin:

Brent Pry: “How well he’s learned [is what’s stood out]. He doesn’t say a whole lot. And as we’ve discovered here through this camp, he learns at a pretty good click. It’s important to him. He’s a hard worker, he’s raw in a lot of areas, but he doesn’t let that slow him down. He’s got a bright future.”

Jordan: “That’s a physical kid with some gifts. I mean, that kid is very… he’s just blessed with great size, great speed, great strength. He’s the total package.”

At 6-6, 338, Virginia Tech freshman Xavier Chaplin is a big man, and he’s highly regarded. (Jon Fleming)

OG Jesse Hanson:

Pry: “Jesse’s just such a tough competitor. He’s mature, he’s experienced, he’s mentally tough, he’s physically tough. He works well with the unit you know, he’s always in sync with that line, which is really important. So anything that he’s lacking he makes up for with with other intangibles.”

Jordan: “Jesse has come a long way since I’ve been here. He’s now really starting to understand the game. He’s not playing in here [in his head], he’s playing out there [on the field]. That’s a big part for him. He got out of his own head and was just able to let the flow of the game dictate itself vs. trying to guess.”

OG Braelin Moore:

Pry: “Braelin’s got a little bit more background in high school ball and with his brother playing college football and he’s a little further along that way, but both those guys [Chaplin and Moore] are good, young o-line prospects.”

C Jack Hollifield:

Jordan: “Another guy [who] has come a long way since I got here. When I got here, he had just moved to o-line. He was a guard, now he’s a center. But he’s come a long way. Biggest thing for him was just learning how to snap the football. Once you’ve learned that, he’s a really good athlete, he’s a smart kid. He’s really come a long way and I think will be very good for VT in the future.”

WR Tucker Holloway:

Pry: “He’s got a great approach, he’s a hard worker. Good ball skills, learns it well. He’s got a chance to… he’s one of those guys that if he keeps developing, he’ll have a chance to help us.”

S Mansoor Delane:

Pry: “We’ve been very surprised. He was out there limited for a while but [was] just chomping at the bit to go. He got released today. He’s played safety, he’s played corner, he’s got a really diverse skill set, he learns quickly, that you love. [That] gives him a great chance to play as a freshman. He’s a guy that we’re all hands on deck with right now to figure out how he can help us.”

Asked if Delane’s development has made the coaching staff feel better about the defensive back room, Pry said, “Yeah, he’s got to keep coming. Yeah, he’s got to keep coming. We haven’t had enough full contact. He missed those scrimmages and things, but I’ve been impressed with him to this point.”

8 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Why the heck was Gosnell practicing if he hurt his knee senior year in hs? Tight end is about the deepest position we have on the team. He should have been redshirted this season. Have to wonder what coaching staff was thinking.

    1. If he was full go, he was full go even if slated to be redshirted. Admonishing the coaches is stupid.

  2. How the heck are 2 of our top 3 running backs still not available after an entire off-season and summer? Unbelievable!

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