Virginia Tech Football lost a lot of offensive weapons this offseason. Quarterback Jerod Evans left prematurely for the NFL and wound up getting signed as an undrafted free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles. Fullback and team leader Sam Rogers was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams, and leading receivers Bucky Hodges and Isaiah Ford were drafted late by the Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins respectively. With this amount of turnover, many questions arise about the team’s ability to replace those players. The staples of the Hokies’ offense for the last three seasons have been Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges, and their loss might be the biggest, so let’s take a look at the guys looking to make up for their lost production.
Of the returning receivers, Cam Phillips has the most experience and is most suited to take over the WR1 role. He put up an impressive season last year, putting up 983 yards and five touchdowns. Phillips has shown flashes of brilliance like in the Belk Bowl, where he caught 6 receptions for 115 yards, in a massive comeback victory for the Hokies. Look for him to take a veteran leadership role for this fresh receiving corps.
CJ Carroll is the next leading receiver in experience, as he is going into his redshirt junior year. He stands 5’8”, and relies on his shiftiness to gain separation, which he has been very good at. Last season in limited action he was able to haul in 18 passes for 258 yards, including a 62-yard grab against Notre Dame on a crucial third-and-three situation in another comeback effort by the Hokies. Carroll will likely continue to play a slot position this season, but expect to see his workload increase.
True freshman Caleb Farley surprised everyone in Blacksburg when he put on a show at the spring game, hauling in two huge receptions for 61 yards against a stout Hokies secondary with most of the starters returning. Farley stands at 6’3” and can use his big, athletic frame to win jump balls, as well as the speed to beat defenders down the field. The real excitement comes from the room he has to grow. Farley only picked up the position of receiver recently, as he played quarterback in high school and was recruited as a defensive back. If he can work on the details of receiver, he could be a staple of the offense for a while.
Kumah is a returning player, who has a little experience on the field. He hasn’t shown up much on the stat sheet, but with the wide receiver position battle wide open, he might be seeing some reps soon. He possesses a big frame and is listed at 6’2” and 210 lbs. Coming out of high school he was rated a four-star recruit by ESPN and set school records with 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns his senior season. Kumah could see the field this season as a backup.
Samuel Denmark & Phil Patterson
Both of these players are redshirt freshmen, and come in as highly rated recruits. They both possess great athletic attributes that make them special play-makers. Samuel Denmark runs track at Virginia Tech and has the 10th fastest 60 meter sprint in school history. Phil Patterson is two inches taller than Denmark, at 6’2”, and uses his big frame to win 50/50 jump balls. Both of these players are still raw talents, but in a fresh receiving corps, they may get the chance to see game action sooner rather than later.
This team has a lot of turnover, but it also has a lot to be excited about. With such a young receiving corps, there is a lot of room to improve, and the future looks bright for these athletes as well as the team. Coach Justin Fuente has plenty of athletic receivers to pick from and with time and practice, they can likely develop into threatening offensive weapons.