Virginia Tech Spring Practice Discussion: Tight Ends

Drake DeIuliis, Virginia Tech
Drake DeIuliis (middle) is one of the most experienced players at Virginia Tech. (Jon Fleming)

Offensive coordinator Tyler Bowen is the new tight ends coach at Virginia Tech, and he is working with two very experienced players in Nick Gallo (6-4, 251, Jr.) and Drake DeIuliis (6-5, 247, r-Sr.) this spring. The Hokies are expected to feature the tight ends quite a bit in the offense, which will include both catching the football and blocking.

Perhaps a bigger question is, “How will the tight ends align?” Will we see them in the backfield at times as H-back types? Could they potentially split out wide? I’m not sure exactly how Tyler Bowen will handle things, but I can look at last years snaps for both players and tell you where they have experience playing.

Here’s how the returning tight ends lined up last season…

Nick Gallo43796612
Drake DeIuliis4253783

I’m not surprised that Nick Gallo lined up a lot in the slot, or even in the backfield as an H-back. I am a little bit surprised, however, that Drake DeIuliis was mostly just a regular tight end and not used in as many roles as Gallo. I would have thought that DeIuliis could have lined up at times as an outside receiver, considering his height and the fact that he played outside receiver in high school.

However, just because it didn’t happen last season doesn’t mean that it couldn’t happen in 2022. Gallo in particular has proven to be a versatile player during his Virginia Tech career, and I’m sure he’ll continue to be one under Brent Pry and Tyler Bowen. Could DeIuliis also take on a larger role? It’s hard to say, though I could certainly see him lining up on the outside here and there, especially as a potential redzone target.

The career statistics for Gallo and DeIuliis are modest enough…

Gallo: 25 catches, 213 yards, 8.5 ypc, 1 TD
DeIuliis: 9 catches, 106 yards, 11.8 ypc, 1 TD

However, that’s a lot more experience and a lot more receptions than most of Virginia Tech’s wide receivers.

When Virginia Tech was without Tayvion Robinson, Tre Turner and Da’Wain Lofton for the Pinstripe Bowl, the Hokies made a concerted effort to get Gallo more involved in the passing game. He caught four passes in that game, which was a career-high. It’s certainly possible that the new coaching staff could try and get Gallo and DeIuliis involved more, particularly if the outside receiver depth doesn’t develop as hoped.

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