Virginia Tech Spring Football Thoughts: Wide Receiver and Tight End



Of the 11 scholarship wide receivers and tight ends on the current roster, five are true freshmen or r-freshmen. One is a r-sophomore who has never played a down. Another is also a r-sophomore who played a different position last year. Just four of them have ever recorded a reception in a college football game.

Obviously there are a lot of unknowns for Justin Fuente and his coaching staff. They’ve got a lot to figure out this spring. Bud Foster has a lot of question marks on defense, but at least he recruited his personnel and is familiar with them. That won’t be the case on the offensive side of the ball.

Here are the wide receivers:

Isaiah Ford (6-2, 190, Jr.)
Cam Phillips (6-1, 198, Jr.)
Deon Newsome (5-11, 187, r-Jr.)
Jaylen Bradshaw (6-1, 198, r-So.)
Divine Deablo (6-3, 210, Fr.)
Eric Kumah (6-2, 203, Fr.)
Samuel Denmark (6-0, 182, Fr.)

Only three of those players have ever caught a pass in a college game. I’m not sure Deon Newsome has ever caught a pass on the defensive side of the line of scrimmage, which means only two of Tech’s seven receivers are actually experienced at running routes and reading defenses in a college football game.

The situation at tight end isn’t much better:

Bucky Hodges (6-7, 245, r-Jr.)
Chris Durkin (6-4, 232, r-So.)
Xavier Burke (6-2, 270, r-Fr.)
Chris Cunningham (6-2, 242, r-Fr.)

Chris Durkin played six offensive plays as a quarterback last season, but has no experience at tight end. Xavier Burke and Chris Cunningham redshirted. Bucky Hodges obviously has plenty of experience, but moreso as a wide receiver than a tight end.

I don’t feel the need to dissect Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips. We know that Ford is a great player, and we know that Phillips is solid, too. Instead, there are several other more important topics to discuss. Let’s start with Bucky Hodges.

Hodges Needs to Get Some Work with Holmon Wiggins

Bryan Stinespring was a very good tight ends coach for the Hokies, but I’m not so sure that Bucky Hodges shouldn’t have been working with wide receivers coach Zohn Burden (and Aaron Moorehead before Burden) rather than Stinespring.

Bucky’s biggest faults are the sharpness of his routes, and his inconsistency in the passing game in general. When you think about it, that’s no surprise. He worked with Bryan Stinespring, despite the fact that he was actually playing wide receiver more times than not. He was being taught the same techniques, and sharing the same film room, with Ryan Malleck. However, the reality is that both of those players were used in different ways.

Right now, we don’t know how the new coaching staff is going to use Bucky Hodges. Will he be a more traditional tight end, will he be mostly a wide receiver, or something in between? I’m not sure at this point, but if he’s going to be split out wide a lot and he’s expected to run good routes, he needs to get some work in with Holmon Wiggins to work on his route running.

Hodges also has to improve his blocking at the point of attack as well. Two of Virginia Tech’s best running plays of the season came