4 Days Until Spring Practice: True Freshmen

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Seven true freshmen enrolled at Virginia Tech in January.  They have taken part in winter workouts, they will get a leg up on their fellow true freshmen by going through spring practice, and some will compete for playing time come August.

I don’t think it’s any secret that true freshmen who enroll early put themselves in a better position to earn playing time than those who arrive in the summer.  Sure, guys like Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips were able to come in and start from day one despite not enrolling early, but those who get in that extra semester have an advantage in several areas…

1: Extra strength and conditioning time with Mike Gentry and his staff.
2: An early jump on learning the playbook.
3: An early jump on adjusting to the speed of the game.
4: Earlier adjustment to college life than the other freshmen.

All four of those things are very important.  Some guys can be slow to pick up the playbook.  Some aren’t physically strong enough.  It takes some folks time to adjust to the speed of the game.  For others, the jump from high school academics to college courses can be difficult.  Getting a head start in January can be very important to a player’s development, and it gives him a better chance to compete for early playing time.

Let’s take a quick look at the seven players who enrolled early, and assess their chances of playing this year.

Adonis Alexander, S, 6-3, 193: I’ve heard that Alexander has impressed early on, particularly with his testing in the vertical jump.  The coaches really like his blend of size and athletic ability.  He has a tremendous frame that can certainly be developed by Mike Gentry.  With Tech’s depth at safety, I think it’s likely that Alexander redshirts, but he could potentially help on special teams if he can get strong enough.  We’ll have a full scouting report on him next week.

Xavier Burke, TE, 6-4, 250: Burke originally signed with Tech in 2014.  He went to prep school for a semester, got himself qualified, and enrolled a semester early.  He has good size already, and Bryan Stinespring likes his hands and his ability to move his feet.  The Hokies have plenty of tight ends, barring injury, so right now it looks as if Burke is slated for a redshirt