Offensive Line, Class of 2023
Bishop McDevitt, Harrisburg, PA
Since the first of the year, Bishop McDevitt (Pa.) three-star offensive lineman Gabriel Arena made two visits to Virginia Tech. One was in January for a junior day, but the one that arguably closed the deal on his commitment was a spring practice just before the Hokies’ spring game in April.
During that visit, Arena said he especially noticed offensive lineman Silas Dzansi. During practice, Arena said he took note of how the sixth-year player worked and how he communicated. Dzansi epitomized much of what Arena hopes to do himself at the college level. Though he waited until May 6 to announce his pledge to Virginia Tech, it was this trip that cemented it.
“I watched him, and he stood out in practice as a leader who was encouraging guys,” Arena said of Dzansi. “When he was doing recovery after practice, I was able to talk to him about what he does in the weight room and the teams who are looking into him. It was a really good experience to connect to him and talk to him.”
Arena said he’s now fully on board with the Hokies. In addition to Dzansi, he said he was sold by plenty of other factors, including coach Brent Pry and assistant coach Joe Rudolph.
“The main reason was because of Coach (Brent) Pry and Coach (Joe) Rudolph,” Arena said. “Their characters, they’re just welcoming. It’s hard to say something bad. They’re such great people to be around, and the vibe they give off, it’s awesome.”
Arena’s trip to Blacksburg for junior day in January also proved beneficial. Though he’d visited Virginia Tech with the previous coaching staff, the junior day immediately sold Arena on the new staff.
“I came to the conclusion, ‘oh, my goodness, this is the place,’” he said about that visit. “Why wouldn’t this be the place? There isn’t an answer for that. I can’t think of a reason why I wouldn’t come there and plenty why I would.
“During that visit, it was one of the first new ones with the new staff. Coach Pry was talking about his vision for the future, what he wanted to do. I had one-on-ones with Coach Pry and Coach Rudolph that went well. I’m pretty amped up about the staff, and that’s the main thing.”
“We understand each other to the level that we connect,” he said. “The jokes we have, the humor we have, our seriousness for football is the same. We know when to have a good time, then when it’s time to get down to business, we get amped up to come to work. We’re on the same type of level, which helps us really work together and get along.”
What Rudolph hasn’t made clear is exactly where Arena could fit on the offensive line. But Arena said he’s comfortable with wherever he’s needed.
“I’m pretty sure it’s unsure whether I’d play tackle or guard, but I can definitely play either of those, even center if I’m coached up to it,” he said. “I think they see me as a standout leader, someone who can help guys when they need it and to lead by example.”
Arena said he believes he can provide some of what Dzansi has for his teammates the past couple of seasons, and he hopes to spend the next few months working on the rest of his game as well.
“I feel technique-wise, I’m always refreshing, keeping it up to date, improving...
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