Virginia Tech Tight Ends: Experience And Young Talent

Nick Gallo, Virginia Tech
Veteran tight end Nick Gallo returns for Virginia Tech. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

Every single tight end on the Virginia Tech roster is a freshman or a senior in 2022. That’s not ideal spacing between players, but the good news is that the Hokies should have quality depth this fall, and they probably signed what is on paper the best tight end class in program history.

The lack of spacing means that the Virginia Tech coaching staff will likely play a true freshman tight end in 2022, if for nothing else just to make sure that there aren’t three redshirt freshmen on the roster at the same time in 2023. Fortunately, there are a couple of good candidates who are options to see the field this year; one because he possesses a very high level of talent (in my opinion), and another because he enrolled early and is already very familiar with the system.

Overall, it’s a very talented freshman class. We’ll get into that in more detail later, but we’ll start out with the more experienced Virginia Tech tight ends.

Virginia Tech Veterans

Veteran tight ends Nick Gallo (6-3, 240, Sr.) and Drake De Iuliis (6-6, 240, r-Sr.) have played plenty of snaps, and they will carry the load at their position this year.

Gallo: 1,086 career snaps
De Iuliis: 756 career snaps

There probably aren’t too many teams around the country whose top two tight ends have combined for over 1,800 snaps, so you can expect to see both of these guys heavily involved in the offense in 2022. That said, neither player has been heavily involved in the passing game during the course of their careers.

Gallo: 25 receptions, 213 yards, 8.5 ypr, 1 TD
De Iuliis: 9 receptions, 76 yards, 15.2 ypr, 1 TD

I don’t know what the final numbers will look like at the end of the season, but I think there’s a good chance that both players set their own personal season-high for catches (14 for Gallo, 5 for De Iuliis). With Tre Turner, Tayvion Robinson and Da’Wain Lofton all missing the Pinstripe Bowl, Virginia Tech leaned heavily on Gallo in the passing game, and he caught a career-high four passes in that game despite playing with the backup quarterback who wasn’t actually a quarterback.

When I was in Charlotte a couple of weeks back, I asked Dax Hollifield to name some young offensive players that fans didn’t know about but who he expected to have a big role. He skipped the young guys and said that even though he knows Gallo isn’t young, but he expects the senior tight end to have a big role in the offensive this year if the spring is any indication. It also probably doesn’t hurt the tight ends that the offensive coordinator (Tyler Bowen) is their position coach, so he’s going to be more familiar with their strengths and weaknesses than any other position group.

De Iuliis has played more as his career has progressed, and back in 2017 his redshirt was briefly pulled so he could be used as a redzone threat. He immediately got hurt and took a medical redshirt, but with Tech’s lack of height in the two-deep at wide receiver (besides Kaleb Smith), it’s certainly possible that the redshirt senior could take on an added role on the goal line this season.

Again, I don’t know what the numbers are going to look like exactly, but Virginia Tech should have solid play at the tight end spot this year. There might not be a star player like a Dalton Keene or James Mitchell, but I don’t think there’s much to worry about with this duo.