Tech Tidbits: Yes, Kyle Chung is Still on the Team, and He'll Probably Start at Center

The Hokies are turning to a familiar face at center, prompting a right tackle position battle.

Is Kyle Chung (61) the answer at center this season? [Mark Umansky]

Remember how last week in this space I discussed feeling at least a pang of guilt about paying attention to football during March? Consider that fully out of the picture.

Buzz's bunch got bounced, Virginia AND my new favorite Maryland school are both out of the tournament, and the NFL draft still feels eons away. Outside of a few interesting basketball matchups left, this is all we've got in the world of college sports.

And I say that's fine by me. If somehow you haven't noticed, Justin Fuente had a lot to say when I caught up with him last week (and I'd urge you to read part one and part two of that interview if you haven't already), and spring practice is in full swing.

Let's start with the most quintessentially spring story possible: a shuffle on the offensive line.

The Eternal Kyle Chung, Back at Center

Perhaps the biggest announcement of Thursday's media session is that the Hokies are trying out a familiar face at center: Kyle Chung.

Vance Vice entered the offseason knowing he'd need to find a replacement for Eric Gallo, who held down the center spot for 38 games over the course of the last three seasons. He wasn't always Tech's best starter on the line (and I will not miss his tendency to launch snaps over the heads of Tech quarterbacks in important moments) but consistency at the position is important, and finding a replacement for him has to be a huge part of Vice's job description this spring.

That brings us to Chung, who secured a sixth season of eligibility after earning a medical redshirt. Chung is certainly no stranger to Blacksburg (he's been at Tech since the good ole days when I was still in college), yet he's not exactly a grizzled veteran either. Last year was his first starting a full 13 games; his previous season high was two.

The coaches raised a few eyebrows last offseason by moving Chung to right tackle, after talking up Tyrell Smith for the spot for a while. Now, it seems, Chung will be returning to his roots as an interior lineman — he largely played center, and even a little guard, before moving to the outside last year.

The move is certainly a logical one for Vice and company. There really aren't many interior linemen on the roster with a whole lot in the way of experience, so Chung definitely seems like an obvious choice in many ways.

The question with him, as it has been for so much of his career, will be one of health.

Let's hope he's right. He certainly did a lot to combat his reputation as a brittle player with his durability last year.

Does he have enough experience snapping to still be effective? And will that good health last? Those will be the key questions Vice will have to answer before the fall arrives.

Right Tackle Tango

Chung moving to center opens up a starting spot at right tackle, which was a bit of a revolving door last offseason as well.

Smith seems like a natural contender to be in the mix over there, considering what the coaches saw from him last offseason before he lost out to Chung. Fuente says he'll have some competition, however.

Dzansi and Jackson are both quite interesting prospects. If you'll remember, Dzansi spent a year at the prep level (at Tech's preferred destination, Fork Union Military Academy) before redshirting last year.

Jackson, meanwhile, saw light work last season (his first after a redshirt year), and was one of the more intriguing prospects Tech signed a couple classes ago. At 6'6", 335 pounds he certainly has the size to play tackle, but when he signed he was a virtually unknown prospect after largely focusing on basketball in high school.

Plenty of guys have gone on to succeed with those sorts of backgrounds. Lest we forget, Yosh Nijman spent a semester at Fork Union and his recruiters targeted him more for his athleticism than any belief he'd succeed at one position or another back in the day. Now, he's reliable starter on the blind side.

The question will be whether either Dzansi or Jackson have enough experience to credibly challenge Smith. In a perfect world, Jackson has the frame and athleticism to take over for Nijman at left tackle for some day. Will he get a jump on that process by earning reps on the right side this season?

Another very intriguing matter for Vice to chew over this spring.

Oh, and don't forget that the Hokies have three offseason linemen joining the class this summer: tackles Luke Tenuta and Walker Culver and guard John Harris. I'm not really expecting any of them to make an impact right away, but of the three, Tenuta's got the sort of frame to raise eyebrows.

In any case, I hear from recruits all the time about how Vice preaches a "we play the five best guys" philosophy, regardless of set positions on the line, so expect to see more (not less) offensive line shuffling before the offseason is out.

Rivers Step In, But Who Else?

Dylan Rivers is an in-state kid who picked the Hokies via a late flip from Penn State, playing at the same position as a guy who could very well end up as a first-round draft pick; suffice it to say, there are some expectations about what he'll accomplish at Tech.

By all accounts, Rivers is going to get the chance to show what he's made of this season. Based on his time playing special teams last year (rather than redshirting), it makes a whole lot of sense that he'll step in for Tremaine Edmunds at backer this year. So, ya know, no pressure.

"I'm just trying to be my own player right now," Rivers said, via Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "Tremaine is a freak. You can't take anything away from the guy. He was awesome. But I'm just trying to be the best player I can be right now and learn from Coach Foster."

Certainly, the history of successful players at the position (when combined with Bud Foster's renown for coaching top-flight linebackers) means that Rivers has some big shoes to fill. I'm definitely anxious to see what kind of progress he shows this spring.

But Rivers is the big name recruit, and it seemed a sure bet that he'd open spring as the presumptive starter at backer. Perhaps the larger question is who will join him at mike.

Given the way Rivers talked about it, it seems Rayshard Ashby is the answer for now, which jives with a quick glance at the linebackers on the roster.

"It's definitely weird going in and sitting in Tremaine's spot and having Rayshard Ashby sitting next to me in Andrew (Motuapuaka)'s spot," Rivers said, discussing the new arrangement in the linebackers' meeting room without last year's starters.

Ashby's always been on the smaller side (he's currently listed at 5'10" and 228 pounds) but Foster has made it clear over the years that being a freakish athlete is hardly a prerequisite to starting at mike. With Tavante Beckett no longer with the team, Ashby is also among the more experienced linebackers on the roster.

The elephant in the room, however, is Dax Hollifield. The highly touted recruit may be closer in size and athleticism to Rivers or the youngest Edmunds, but, as Fuente himself put it to me, the Hokies aren't going to let adherence to one position guide them in making a decision on starters.

So, the question becomes: does Ashby's extra experience help him hold down the spot? Or does Hollifield displace him quickly when he arrives on campus this summer? Hollifield certainly has more hype, but it's no small matter for a freshman to take over a key spot leading the defense.

I leave you today with a small reminder that Tom Brady dropped a pass and lost the Super Bowl, this time courtesy of Kyle Chung.

Comments

Perhaps the biggest announcement of Thursday's media session is that the Hokies are trying out a familiar face at center: Kyle Chung.

via GIPHY

FOSTERS: Australian for defense

A starting line from L->R of Nijman: 6'7" 322, Plantin: 6'5" 312, Chung: 6'3" 310, Pfaff: 6'5" 308 and Jackson: 6'6" 335 or Smith: 6'3" 300 is some beef in the trenches, might be one of the bigger lines we've had.

1-0 every week

Jackson at 6'1" might struggle seeing over them.

1-0 every week

Meanwhile hooker and Patterson...

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

are still growing and have almost caught bucky....

#Bapn ain't EZ

Wanna win put boobie in! Let boobie spin coach!

I think his NFL Combine height was 6' 5/8" or something.

And might I also add

#FUENTEenFUEGO
Waho's suck
Uva swallows

Jackson is no where near as athletic as TT5 or Vick, both could scramble when the pocket collapsed and Vick had eyes in the back of his head and knew where the defenders were going to be before they were there.

1-0 every week

...and so ends the similarities between JJ and TT

True, JJ is a much more polished passer at this point in his career than TT.

You mean defenders will have trouble seeing him

Until he's already run by them

Never Forget #1 Overall Seed UVA 54, #64 UMBC 74

I think part of the fanbase issues with Jackson was on pass plays when the pocket was collapsing, he was not able to escape.

1-0 every week

Agreed he has the escapability of Byron Leftwich.

#FUENTEenFUEGO
Waho's suck
Uva swallows

Funny. I was at that game in the 'burg when Marshall came to town thinking they were going to show us their great QB and whup our butts good. Near the end of the game, they were carrying him up and down the field to the huddle. It was painful to watch, but Byron was a worthy competitor and I'll always respect that.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

Oh yeah. He was one of my faves (I have his jersey from when he was in J'ville). That being said, he was not one of the quickest or most mobile QBs (& he even admitted & acknowledged it himself on numerous occasions).

#FUENTEenFUEGO
Waho's suck
Uva swallows

Hard to have a lot of elusiveness with a broken foot (which is what it sounds like he had near the end of the season).

I have seen this in comments on here multiple times but never anywhere in print, thus leading me to believe this is an exaggeration often used by those arguing for jacksons upside when others are critizicing his performance. I know we heard he was in a boot during the week in between games but can you really play football with a broken foot? Wouldnt you get some sort of cast or something? Also it seems if he had a broken foot there would be a heck of a lot more indicators like obvious limping and wincing when on one side, not just running slower and throwing worse.

Well you will never get a confirmation from the coaches. A stress fracture could absolutely be played on. We may never know for sure.

"with all due respect, and remember I’m sayin’ it with all due respect, that idea ain’t worth a velvet painting of a whale and a dolphin gettin’ it on" - Ricky Bobby

No I don't know that the specific injury JJ was suffering from was a broken foot. That aspect of it is a rumor. But I thought it was pretty clear he was suffering from sort of limiting injury about midway through the season.

If you want to split hairs on that aspect of it then, okay. But I think it's fair to say that his ability to escape the pocket just might have been affected by injury.

I agree on all your points. As I said, just noticed broken popping up more lately. You might call it splitting hairs but for me the severity of the rumored injury is an important factor. Well...semi-important.

I've had a broken foot. Twice. Jones Fx (5th metatarsal), one in each foot, 25 years apart. With a Jones Fx you'd have to be really drugged or shot up to be able to put ANY weight on that foot, and walking or similar would be out of the question, unless you ran on your heel (and were heavily drugged). Best description I can provide is it feels like a volcanic explosion of hot lava pain, and ANY movement amplifies it. So I tend to doubt the "broken foot" claim, unless there was a stress Fx going on.

The LB battle is going to be interesting this spring and fall.

Is it football season yet?

*TE

I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction:
“I served in the United States Navy"

KCCO

I may or may not have spent more than 4 years in school. Dont judge me.. Im sure he's graduated but too lazy to look right now but what classes do you take for 12 hrs a semester in your 6th year.

World Regions 4 times.

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

World Regions once, Geography of Wine three times.

World Regions once
Geography of Wine once
SS: Geography of East Asia once
Who cares, you'll make GPA eligibility once

Never Forget #1 Overall Seed UVA 54, #64 UMBC 74

FOSTERS: Australian for defense

Lots of People spend 7 years in college.

Yes they are called doctors and lawyers

I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction:
“I served in the United States Navy"

KCCO

And such.

I've been taking college classes since 2002.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

Haha 7 thats funny. *Sadly crying as I finish my 7th and prepare for my 8th year*

I had a friend who called it "operation: maximize undergraduate experience" - 7 years for a bachelor's.

I had another friend who took 9, but at least he graduated with a minor, two bachelor's, and a master's. And the masters took longer because he opted for travelling during summers rather than hang around and work on a thesis. Eventually, his adviser told him he was cutting his funding if he didn't wrap it up.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

A true hero in the legend of Van Wilder.

#FUENTEenFUEGO
Waho's suck
Uva swallows

Now finish up them taters; I'm gonna go fondle my sweaters.

nine here 😭😭😭😭😭

Chem PhD '16

Whatever happened to that catering course that had very little class time, very little work, a fairly easy A, and some free food that had a wait list back in the day?

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

It was only offered at unCheat.

Beekeeping
Brewing Science
That's what I wish I could go back and take.

In my day, it was Physics as a Liberal Art, Cinema Appreciation, and I would have loved to go back and take Robertson's intro course on the Civil War again, just for his stories and refereeing vignettes.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

If you'll remember, Dzansi spent a year at the JUCO level (at Tech's preferred destination, Fork Union Military Academy) before redshirting last year.

That's prep school, right? Not JUCO. JUCO would mean loss of a year or two of eligibility...

That's correct.

...Vice preaches a "we play the five best guys" philoshophy, regardless of set positions on the line...

Philoshophy? What is that, some kind of talk on a cereal box?

The Poster Formerly Known As The Spirit Of Bernard Basham

Ok, Edie.

It's going to be weird AF one day when Virginia Tech Football comes into a season- any season, with a good, veteran, proven OL. Weird AF I tell you.

Would you rather have a proven veteran line where the same 5 starts together for 2 years and then has to be 100% replaced, or have a mixed youth + experienced line where you replace 1-3 starters any given year?

In a perfect world, perhaps one year from 2007-2018 at a "top 25" football school could we not be scrambling to find 7-8 experienced, good OL. That would be what I would rather have.

I don't think that we are scrambling this year. Heading into last year we only had 2 spots that were locked down. Both on the left side. Headed into this year we have the LT and Center that are locked down. Chung at least has experience. If they can both stay healthy then that is a pretty good starting spot.

We are not in terrible shape this year. I agree. We have some guys with 2-3 years in the program like Smith and Plantin ready to go hopefully. The offense ground to a halt last year when Nijman went down. huge drop off after him. We need to get to a place where losing 1 OL doesn't kill the offense.

Definitely hard to argue with that. I do think we are on a much better path in terms of succession planning on the OL of at least being able to replace starters with guys who a) have been in the program for at least 2 years and b) have some form of game experience. It also seems (to me at least) like we are doing somewhat better recruiting actual offensive lineman rather than athletes who may "project well" to the OL.

Yes, we are past the Kurt Newsome "Only RS Juniors are ready to play" and we are "going to sign 2 ol every 3 years" philosophies- thank the lord. We are in much better shape overall.

Whichever line brings VT a Natty

You will see this game, this upset and this sign next on ESPN Sportscenter. Virginia Tech 31 Miami 7

If the "good ole days" were when you went to school with Kyle Chung, what were the days when I went to school with Frank Beamer? Sigh.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

Hey hey, watch your language. Don't call him old!

Eh?

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

silly joke, I hope you didn't take offense. If so, my apologies!

Offense not even remotely taken. I gave you a leg for the joke, and now another for your kind but unnecessary apology. I was trying myself to further the joke by my "Eh?", referring to the commonly held perception of we oldsters being hard of hearing, but had to change my hearing aid battery before I got around to fleshing it out, then totally forgot that I was in the middle of trying to...ummmm, what was it we were talking about?

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

I love lamp?

Really? Uh, oh yeah, I remember now. Siddown, I got a story to tell you about that. It's a knee slapper!

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

Gah dang dat shits freaky.

#FUENTEenFUEGO
Waho's suck
Uva swallows