One of Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente’s primary challenges in 2018 will be finding players to fill positions of need. For the most part, a good portion of the 2017 team returns, but it did see key departures at linebacker, cornerback and wide receiver.
Several replacements are already on the roster and should be able to slide right in to starting roles or see significant playing time. At other spots, it’s not hard to foresee incoming freshmen stepping in and playing immediately. Fuente and his staff did well to identify a few recruits who won’t have to wait that long to hear their names called.
Here are three incoming freshmen for the Hokies who will see time on the field in 2018:
Tre Turner, wide receiver
Justin Fuente has shown great trust in his freshmen during his tenure in Blacksburg. Look no further than Sean Savoy, who did well last season and should be one of Josh Jackson’s favorite targets in 2018.
Another freshman wide receiver should see the field immediately this year, especially with Cam Phillips’ graduation. Tre Turner is a player who can line up on the outside and give the Hokies a deep threat. He also can be used toward the middle of the field in slot packages.
Although he has been recovering from a shoulder injury and was unavailable for the spring game, expect to see one of the highest-rated recruits in the Hokies’ 2018 class become an important player in the offense right out of the gate.
Jermaine Waller, cornerback
After the spring game, one of the players Fuente complimented was Jermaine Waller. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound cornerback enrolled in January and was a key part of the Hokies’ final practice session of the season.
“I think he’s got talent,” Fuente said in April, according to the team’s media relations department. “He’s young. We don’t have time to pull him aside and say, ‘Just relax. We’ll call you in a couple of years when it’s time to play.'”
That’s a ringing endorsement if there ever was one. A player of Waller’s type — he played quarterback, running back and on defense in high school — has the chance to thrive in defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s Lunch Pail Defense and will get his shot sooner rather than later.
Dax Hollifield, linebacker
One of the positions under the microscope will be linebacker, where Fuente and Foster will be looking to fill a hole left by the departures of Tremaine Edmunds and Andrew Motuapuaka. They hope that Dax Hollifield can help.
Hollifield is the highest-ranked recruit for the Hokies in the 2018 cycle, considered the No. 8 inside linebacker in the country by the 247Sports composite rankings. He ended his high school career with an eye-popping 150 tackles and 32.5 tackles for a loss as a senior.
Although Hollifield will have a little catching up to do since he didn’t join Turner and Waller in enrolling early, it shouldn’t take him too long to get him up to speed during fall practice. He’s simply too talented of a recruit to be redshirted in 2018.