Roth Report: April 2024 - Virginia Tech Athletics (2024)

As the academic year concludes at Virginia Tech this week, there's so much optimism on the Virginia Tech football scene, from the prospects of the 2024 team to recruiting to the energy around the program.

While the team takes a break for finals in the next week, Head Coach Brent Pry and his staff know they have something special cookin' right now, and we can all see that development in the weight room and on the practice fields. There's lots to get done in the four months before Tech opens its season at Vanderbilt, of course, but the four months since Tech's bowl win over Tulane have been huge for the continued re-birth of Tech's program.

Some notes:

Drone Attack on Target:One improvement the coaches saw was the throwing accuracy of quarterback Kryon Drones. "We tracked every single throw he made in every practice and every scrimmage," offensive coordinator Tyler Bowen said. "We worked on throwing the ball in tight spaces and improving accuracy. If a throw should be to the right shoulder or outside shoulder but it was thrown to the inside shoulder, we deducted a point even if the pass was caught. If the throw was on-target but dropped, he got credit for a good throw."

The analytics of tracking Drones' accuracy in the pocket, on the run, and in different scenarios allowed the staff to get true mathematical evidence over hundreds and hundreds of throws to gauge his accuracy in a variety of situations.

"We wanted his Adjusted Completion Percentage to be 80 percent for the spring, and it was," Bowen said.

"You could see that he (Drones) took a step forward," Tech Network radio analyst Mike Burnop said. "For example, on the RPOs, they sped him up this spring. He has to make that read once the ball is snapped and quickly make that throw. He was threading the needle this spring. A lot of that comes from repetition and experience, which leads to confidence." (Hear more of Mike's post-spring analysis on Level Seven: https://hokiesports.com/podcasts/level-seven-episode-2-19/253)

Drones was playing at a very high level by the end of the 2023 season. He's even better now.

Second-Year Guys Excel:Pry went to great lengths to praise the second-year players, who took a huge step forward since the bowl game. "You can see their bodies are different, just from the work in the weight room, but I'm talking about performing on the field and understanding what it takes," he said. "Across the board, guys like Caleb Williams, Braylon Johnson, Jeremiah Coney, Ayden Greene, who took a huge step, and a bunch of others. That group collectively works hard; we can see the results."

Greene was the name we heard the most from his teammates and coaches as a player who had a great spring. When he committed to Virginia Tech as a 17-year-old in 2022, he was listed as 6-foot, 165 pounds. Greene, who turned 19 in January, is now 6-2 and 185.

"He will be a big part of our offense this fall," Bowen said.

Delane sets the tempo.While Greene was perhaps the most-improved player on Virginia Tech's offense this spring, the player who took the biggest step forward on defense was one of the team's brightest stars in 2023. Cornerback Mansoor Delane "was brilliant" in the spring, per Hokies Defensive Coordinator Chris Marve. "His attention to detail. His focus. His understanding. Always had instincts, but now understands better. Precise in coverage. Precise in tackling." When you talk about elite corners in recent Tech history, names like DeAngelo Hall, Brandon Flowers, Jayron Hosley, Macho Harris, and Kyle and Kendal Fuller come to mind. Will Delane join that group? It might be too early to tell, but pared with Dorian Strong, the Hokies have a corner tandem that Pry likely wouldn't trade for any other pair in the ACC. Delane was named a freshman All-American in 2023, where he started every game. Strong was named All-ACC third team in 2023 and became just the second FBS cornerback since 2014 with 300+ coverage snaps to allow less than 10 receptions and less than 100 yards receiving in a season.

Hello RVA:We all know the transfer portal has changed the way college football rosters are built, but for Virginia Tech, the focus continues to be building relationships, so the roster is solid with in-state high school players. In fact, Pry and his entire staff will hold a Richmond Chalk Talk at the Richmond Marriott on Tuesday, May 21, as another example of the program's continued focus in the 804 region. It's an event designed for prep coaches throughout central Virginia.

The Hokies have 16 players on their current roster from the Richmond area, including Ali Jennings, Takye Heath, Kelvin Gilliam, and Braylon Johnson from Highland Springs High School. Pry's focus on recruiting the Commonwealth of Virginia and Tech's 'footprint' continues to be the focus of his staff.

Richmond has been a fertile source of Tech talent since Millard the Mallard was quackin' around town (bonus points if you get that reference), and the 804 is more critical than ever. The event in Richmond should be productive for this staff.

Here are some interesting numbers: Since joining the ACC, the Hokies have had 43 first-team all-ACC players. Of that group, 29 were in-state kids, including all three Tech QBs who were named first-team All-ACC (Bryan Randall of Williamsburg, Marcus Vick from Newport News, and Tyrod Taylor from Hampton). But Tech hasn't had a first-team all-conference player at any position since 2017, when receiver Cam Phillips (Laurel, Md.), guard Wyatt Teller (Bealeton), linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (Danville), and cornerback Greg Stroman (Bristow) were named first-team all-ACC.

Just for fun, we ran the number for Hokies named second-team all-ACC since Virginia Tech joined the conference. The results: 41 of 63 players prepped at VHSL schools. So, of the 106 players named either first- or second-team all-ACC at Tech, 70 of them are in-state kids.

That, of course, does not come as a surprise, and that's why Pry and staff are working so hard to keep the Virginia stars at home.

Look, ya can't get 'em all, right? Tajh Boyd (Hampton HS/Clemson), EJ Manual (Bayside HS/Virginia Beach), Mike Glennon (Westfield HS/NC State), and Russell Wilson (Collegiate School Richmond/NC State/Wisconsin), along with Tech's trio of Vick, Randall, and Taylor, are among the greatest ACC QBs of the last 20 years. But if you're the head man at Tech, you've got to get more than your share of the Commonwealth's finest.

There are prep players who will be elite college and NFL players at VHSL programs right now. Pry's goal is to make sure they don't continue to slip away.

Gallery: (4-13-2024) FB: 2024 Maroon & Orange Spring Game

Decision at Hartsfield Airport:Linebacker Sam Brumfield shared an interesting story about his decision to pick Virginia Tech in the transfer portal. Brumfield visited Blacksburg and then flew to Pittsburgh on the same recruiting trip. He met with Pry and the Tech staff, then went to Pitt, where he was being recruited by coach Pat Narduzzi and the Panther's staff. He didn't commit to either school until he was flying home.

"I had a long layover in the Atlanta airport flying home from Pittsburgh," Brumfield recalled. "I was just sitting there for hours thinking about what place I liked best and what would be the better fit for me. Virginia Tech just felt like home, and my relationship with Coach Marve was the difference." At 5-11, 230 lbs, Brumfield is built like Marve, who was an all-SEC linebacker at Vanderbilt. When Marve was coaching linebackers at Mississippi State, he recruited Brumfield, who was a star at Pearl High School.

"I can relate to him," Marve joked. "He reminds me of me, but he's a lot better."

Brumfield said he made the decision to commit to Virginia Tech at the airport and called Marve from the gate while waiting for his flight.

"I called Coach Marve first, then I called my mom," Brumfield said.

The French Nightmare:Pry has been referring to senior defensive lineman Wilfried Pene as the "French Nightmare." Now in his fifth year at Tech, Pene is an example of the depth Virginia Tech has built on its defensive line, and he showed those skills this spring. "He's such a great teammate and strong man," Pry said. "He took another step forward this spring for us. He's been a nightmare for our offensive linemen."

Pene, who was born in Tours, France, before playing high school football in Connecticut, discussed his decision to play football at Tech in an interview with one of our Virginia Tech SMA students from France named Antoine Toquet. While the interview is completely in French, YouTube will provide English subtitles if you'd like to learn more about Wilfried. Here's the link:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1OMQm1R3E4

And if you here refer to Wilfried's "The French Nightmare" asLe Cauchemar Francaisduring a broadcast this fall, you'll know where that originated.

As for Millard the Mallard, here's more on that famous Richmond Duck tale:https://www.lva.virginia.gov/news/broadside/2009-Spring.pdf

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Roth Report: April 2024 - Virginia Tech Athletics (2024)
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