Phil Steele: Hokies No. 29

Steelemas has come early for Virginia Tech fans. Steele has Tech ranked 29th in his 2014 top 40 countdown. Unless his methodology has changed, Steele's preseason top 40 is a projection of where he believes teams will finish in the final rankings. In other words, it's not a power ratings.

His capsule is always an excellent overview of where the program has been the last few seasons, and where it might be headed. Baring any injuries, I complete agree with his defensive starting lineup. However, I think the offensive front-five is a bit jumbled. I think Farris will start at center, and two of the three of Conte, Teller, and Smith will be the guards. Brent Benedict's status is up in the air, but even if healthy I'm not sure if he would've regained a starting spot. At the very least, it's a positive that there are a lot of o-linemen on the roster with starting/game experience that can play a variety of positions.

Football guru Phil Steele pegs the Hokies to finish 29th in the final rankings.

World Cup for College Football Fans: Part II

Hello. Last week I did an introduction to the World Cup for you, and this week I'll look at a bunch more teams that will be participating in the tournament next month. To start with, however, some concerned readers have sent in questions that I've answered below. If you have anything you'd like to see addressed in the next installment, please leave a comment below and I'd be happy to make up an answer.

LB/DE Damien Dozier Shines In Summer Camp, Earns Tech Offer

Four years ago, Damien Dozier was a 5-foot-11 safety for Enloe High School's football team in Raleigh, N.C.

Now, he's a 6-foot-5, 215-pound outside linebacker and rush end.

"I'd like to focus on mastering my position," Dozier says. "I want to make sure I know the game. With my positions and roles, I've been all over the field in high school football."

Virginia Tech offered another under-the-radar prospect.

Carson Lydon Commits to Virginia Tech

Carson Lydon announced his verbal pledge to the Hokies via his Twitter this evening. Lydon is a 6-1, 231 pound linebacker from Tarpon Springs, Florida (East Lake). He's rated as a 3-star prospect by the 247Sports Composite. According to 247Sports, he had offers from Central Florida, Boston College, Duke, and Syracuse among other schools.

Virginia Tech secured its fifth verbal pledge of the 2015 cycle.

Athlon Sports: Hokies No. 27

It's a preseason poll and ranking from a preseason magazine that trades in topical analysis. However, it's May so it gives us something to talk about, as well as a bit of insight into Tech's national perception. Athlon predicts Tech will finish No. 1 in the ACC Coastal. As has been said many times before, Tech avoiding Florida State, Clemson, and Louisville in the Atlantic Division bodes well for the Hokies return to Charlotte.

What did Athlon Sports have to say about the Hokies 2014 football team?

Instagram Analysis: Michael Brewer

Back in March, French published an excellent analysis of incoming quarterback transfer Michael Brewer. Given the limited film available, he did as thorough a job as possible. However, French's breakdown focussed on X's and O's gleaned from the tape; how Brewer throws moving outside the pocket, his arm strength, throwing motion, and concern over batted balls. Unfortunately, there was no discussion of the intangibles: moxy, leadership, desire.

Mook Reynolds, A Versatile Defensive Weapon

Kyle Fuller being selected by the Chicago Bears in the first round of the NFL Draft helped Virginia Tech build upon its reputation as DBU. The Hokies return two sophomore cornerbacks with elite potential in Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson, while highly recruited safety prospects Holland Fisher and C.J. Reavis join the program this fall. With this strong foundation in place, Coach Torrian Gray has been hot on the recruiting trail looking for the next generation of terrific Hokie defensive backs.

Update: Benedict Hospital Reports Untrue, Determination on Football Status Not Made

Update: Virginia Tech commented on Shurburtt's report via its Twitter account. Contrary to what was reported by Shurburtt earlier, Brent is not in the hospital and is at his parent's home in Greenville, S.C. doing fine. Brent suffered a left ankle injury during spring ball and developed deep venous thrombosis after the April practices concluded. A decision on his football status hasn't been made.

Ninety-Nine

Following the '99 campaign, the conversation in the offseason among Hokie Nation always boiled down to Tech's chances of winning the national championship. At least that's how I remember it.

"We're thin along the d-line, but Tyrod will put up enough points to beat Boise, and the rest of the schedule sets up perfectly," someone (probably me) said in August 2010.

World Cup for College Football Fans: Part I

Hello. As you may already be aware, there will not be any college football games played until the end of August. That means an entire summer with no football. However, do not fear, as the World Cup is being played this summer! Since the World Cup is a "soccer" and not football tournament, you may not be overly familiar with it. You're in luck! As I have previously watched soccer and football, I feel I am somewhat qualified to acclimatize you to international soccer. I'll do my best to present everything to you in college football terms so you can show off at parties with your astounding, intricate knowledge of "The Beautiful Game". Today, we'll talk about the basics as well as introduce you to the first group of countries.

Tech Specs: Maroon-White Game

Editor's Note: Tristan Raisch is going to be joining the team as a contributor this season. Tristan graduated from Tech this year with a degree in mechanical engineering, and will begin a PhD program in Translational Biology, Medicine and Health in the fall. He's been longtime member of the community, and is going to write writing a weekly opponent watch feature this fall. Also, he'll be charting plays from Tech's games. The play charting is something I'm amped for because it'll allow us to crunch more advanced stats, discover trends, and let everyone to take a deeper look at each game. Tristan will publish each play chart as part of his Tech Specs column, the first of which, a trial run for the spring game, is below. If you have any suggestions, leave 'em below. --Joe

Well, another spring in Blacksburg has come and gone, and now it's time to sit and twiddle our collective thumbs until August camp begins. As Hokies and college football fans, this is easily the toughest part of the year. The weather is great, the beaches are calling, school is over, and all we want to do is sit down and watch some football... alas. However, there's still plenty to talk about with regards to the Maroon—White game and the direction of the program, so let's get to it. This will be the first in a series of articles examining every detail of Tech's most recent game, with a play chart that will include information on play calls, formations, personnel, miscues, and so much more. Ever wonder what play Lefty is most likely to call on third-and-medium? Wonder how J.C.'s yards after contact compare to Trey's? Well, this handy information will be available to you and used by your loving TKP staff to delve even deeper into the world of Tech football. Sounds cool, right? I'm pretty excited about it. For every game, I'll offer the raw data as well as some thoughts on trends and tendencies that I've picked up. So, without further ado, here are my thoughts from the spring game, followed by the play chart in all its glory (or at least as much of its glory that we could fit on the webpage).

Know Your Opponent: Braxton Miller and OSU's Counter Trey

This is a first in a series of film breakdowns of Ohio State's core offensive plays leading into the Hokies' matchup with the Buckeyes on September 6th.

Much has been made over the last decade about how Urban Meyer's offense has elevated football programs at Utah, Florida, and now Ohio State. Meyer uses elements of a variety of classic offenses in a hybrid spread system that forces defenses to account for multiple options in space on every snap. However, any good offensive system is built upon classic principles that have a solid history of success. In Meyer's system, the quarterback position harkens back to the era of the single wing "tailback." In the old single wing, the tailback received the direct snap much like a quarterback receives the snap in the shotgun today. From the alignment, the tailback was required to be a triple threat; run inside with power, outside with speed, or throw downfield.

Versatile Defender Mook Reynolds Discusses his Recruitment

Like the rest of Hokie Nation, Northern Guilford (Greensboro, North Carolina) standout Mook Reynolds took notice of the Bears drafting Tech's Kyle Fuller 14th overall in the NFL Draft.

"That pretty much reassured my decision, it made me feel really good about my decision," Reynolds told me Friday afternoon.

Mook made a verbal commitment to the Hokies in early February, but that hasn't stopped other schools like Notre Dame and Tennessee from pursuing him.

What does he tell other suitors?

TKP Community Interview: Eric Whitehead

Defensive tackle Eric Whitehead originally planned to commit on May 30th, but decided to end his recruitment a bit early on May 3rd. He verballed to Tech then and give Charley Wiles a birthday present in the process. The 6-1.5, 295 pound run stopper from Indianapolis, Indiana (Lawrence Central) looks to fill a need at tackle along Bud Foster's defensive line. Eric was generous enough with his time to answer the questions you all came up with.

Defensive End Depth and the Melvin Keihn Factor

Before the start of spring practice, my primary positions of worry for the defense were tackle and linebacker. As I had an opportunity to read accounts of the defensive productivity, watch the final scrimmage, and the spring game, a new concern emerged: defensive end. Dadi Nicolas is the only proven commodity at end (assuming, based on his outstanding spring at nose tackle, Corey Marshall stays inside). Ken Ekanem is a very talented player who had an outstanding spring, but has next to no game experience. Both should be productive players, but in Bud Foster's system there's a critical need for solid depth along the defensive line.

The Challenge: Fundraising and Millennials

Virginia Tech hiring Whit Babcock as its new Athletic Director brought great hope to Hokie Nation. By all reports his greatest strength was his ability to engage students, alumni, and the greater community to raise interest and, more importantly, money. Whether it's the new indoor practice facility, the small(ish) football staff (by SEC standards) or the ever-pressing need to keep up in the arms race that is major college athletics, Whit's prowess at opening checkbooks is a much needed addition to the Tech Athletics Department. Working in his favor is a sizable alumni pool that is one of the largest in the nation, many of whom reside within a 5-hour radius of campus. With that being said, Whit has been immediately tasked with re-engaging a fan base that has become frustrated with the recent performance of the two revenue-generating sports—football and men's basketball—while building a strong foundation for future giving throughout the Virginia Tech community.

Handicapping the Running Back Battle: Joel Caleb

Last week I discussed how the spring game format made it very difficult to get a good measure of the offensive position battles. Different personnel groupings focused on different offensive series. The maroon group featuring J.C. Coleman and Marshawn Williams, ran mostly power plays where the offensive line blocked down play side with the back sid guard leading around. As Joe highlighted, the white team featured much more zone read and bootleg action. Because the running backs were being utilized in very different ways, the tape doesn't provide a real "apples to apples" comparison.

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