Virginia Tech Football Top Prospects: 2022

Virginia Tech, Jaden Keller
Jaden Keller is a top-notch linebacker prospect for Virginia Tech. (Jon Fleming)

It’s time for one of our favorite yearly projects: our Top Prospects article that covers the top young players in the Virginia Tech program. This is a combination effort between GMSAHokie and Chris Coleman. Both writers will go over their lists from a year ago and how they fared, and then they’ll move on to their current Top Prospects list.

Eligible players are redshirt sophomores or younger who have played fewer than 100 offensive or defensive snaps in their career. There were 44 players eligible for inclusion this year.

We’ll start things of with GMSAHokie!

GMSAHokie’s Top 10

Before I get started with my Top Prospects list, I’d like to revisit the Top 10 list I did last year (August 2021) to see how things worked out with my predictions. Every year, I love to go back and see how well we did. Who’d we get right? Who’d we miss? I’m always hoping I did better than Chris. Newsflash – I never have.

Here’s my 6-10 in descending order with some comments:

10. Jack Hollifield
9. DJ Harvey
8. Jaden Keller
7. Jaylen Jones
6. Cole Nelson

I have to say – that’s a really solid list. Fortunately, the Hokies didn’t find themselves playing a lot of young players last year so we didn’t really get to see what many of those guys can do, but every one of those players will be a starter or, at the very least, a substantial contributor, barring injury. Two of these guys, Cole Nelson and Jaden Keller, are fighting for starter reps on the defense while the other three are squarely in the 2-deep. One of them, Jaden Keller, will remain on my list for this season while I am choosing to move the rest off and make way for new, young talent. (Editor’s note: Nelson is ineligible for inclusion this year because he went over 100 snaps last season.)

Let me be clear though. Just because I’m not including these other guys on the list this year doesn’t diminish my belief they will be good, impact players for the Hokies. Hollifield, in particular, has the potential to be a very good player and a multi-year starter.

So, unlike my 2020 6-10, I’m pretty happy with the guys I chose in 2021.

Here’s the Top 5 from 2021, also in descending order:

5. Jalen Stroman
4. Wilfried Pene
3. Da’Wain Lofton
2. Parker Clements
1. Jaden Payoute

Sigh – Jaden Payoute is my “White Whale”. He was my #1 Top Prospect two years in a row. Suffice to say, I am really disappointed that injuries completely derailed his career. Whatever he’s up to right now, I wish him the best and a fulfilling, successful life away from playing football.

Other than missing on #1, I am really pleased with this list as well. Three of these guys, (Pene, Lofton, and Clements) played enough last year to outgrow their eligibility for inclusion on this year’s list. Pene is squarely in the 2-deep this year at DT while Clements and Lofton are starters at their respective positions. Lofton in particular will be a star for the Hokies, in my opinion, and Clements has a good chance to play on Sundays. Jalen Stroman is also in the 2-deep as the primary backup for Chamarri Connor.

So, 9 out of 10 ain’t bad! Not only am I pleased that those nine players are truly Top Prospects that will end up being starters or multi-year contributors, but