Inside The Numbers: True Freshman Comparison

Damon Hazelton, Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech needs to get Damon Hazelton back. (Ivan Morozov)

This week’s Inside the Numbers will talk about the loss of Damon Hazelton, and compare Virginia Tech’s true freshmen to other true freshmen around the country.

The Loss of Damon Hazelton

Last season Damon Hazelton caught 51 passes for 802 yards and eight touchdowns.  This year he hasn’t played in a single game.  The Hokies are missing him in a major way, and though Kaleb Smith has done a good job for a redshirt freshman in his place, you’d still rather see the veteran Hazelton on the field for the majority of Tech’s snaps.

A lot has been made about the lack of a running game, the youth on the offensive line, and the performance of Ryan Willis, but not a lot of people have talked about the absence of Hazelton.  I didn’t think Eric Kumah’s departure would be a huge deal, but I was assuming that Tech would have Hazelton in the lineup.  They haven’t.

According to Pro Football Focus, Hazelton was Virginia Tech’s second-highest offensive grader last year at a 75.0 (Tre Turner was a 75.2).  He was also a solid run blocker on the outside, with a 70.3 grade.  Speaking of which, that’s where the Hokies really miss Kumah.  His run blocking grade was an 88.4, which is borderline elite.  The second-best run blocker was Phil Patterson at a 78.2, then Sean Savoy at a 72.0, and then Hazelton at a 70.3.