Tight end was supposed to be a strength of the Virginia Tech offense this year. It was, though not quite as much as we thought it was, and in different ways than we thought it would be.
Before getting into this article, let’s note that Darius Redman won’t be returning next season. He was listed as a r-junior all year, but was flipped to a Sr. on the roster before the bowl game. That means he is foregoing his fifth year, since he has already earned his degree. That’s probably best for Redman and for Tech’s scholarship numbers, because he wasn’t going to see the field as a r-senior.
The Hokies were expected to have three reliable tight ends in 2014. Instead, Kalvin Cline was hurt and will get a medical hardship, Ryan Malleck spent most of the year banged up, and Bucky Hodges was much more of a wide receiver than a tight end. Here are the returning players and their production in 2014:
Bucky Hodges: 45 catches, 526 yards, 11.7 ypc, 7 TD
Ryan Malleck: 24 catches, 195 yards, 8.1 ypc, 2 TD
Kalvin Cline: 1 catch, 3 yards (26 catches for 321 yards, 12.3 ypc, 2 TDs in 2013)
All three of those guys will return for 2015, and hopefully they can all stay healthy this year. Let’s take a look at each player.
Bucky Hodges (6-6, 244, r-So.)
Hodges earned Freshman All-American honors and proved to be one of the most productive young players in the country. His teammates voted him Team MVP, which shows exactly how well he’s thought of in Blacksburg. It’s also very rare for a freshman to be voted Team MVP, especially when deserving defensive candidates such as Kendall Fuller, Dadi Nicolas and Corey Marshall could be found.
Despite being listed as a tight end, Hodges did nearly all his damage split out as a wide receiver this year. Is he really a tight end? I don’t think so. In name only, perhaps. In the second half of the Cincinnati game, Hodges saw a bit more time as an in-line tight end when Tech went to a balanced Pistol formation for part of the second half. Other than that, he was almost exclusively split out wide or in the slot this season.
Will that change going forward? It’s hard to say. Either way, Bucky is a real weapon. He can still add a little bit of athleticism in the strength and conditioning program as well, so he has a very high ceiling. NFLDraftScout.com currently lists him as the #3 tight end prospect in the 2018 class, and that stock could go up.
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