Virginia Tech Football: 5 Newcomers to Watch for the Hokies

Hokies hoping their running game will get a boost this fall from Kansas graduate transfer Khalil Herbert

Every college football head coach will rave about his incoming class on Signing Day. Whether he truly believes the efforts on the recruiting trail were overly successful, the coach has to sell progress to the fans, boosters, and players on the team.

 

The fact that during his Signing Day press conference, Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente spent most of his time talking about the 2021 class, his coaching staff, and his discussions with Baylor tell you all you need to know about the incoming recruits for the Hokies. They are ranked 71st in 247Sports' Composite Team Rankings with a class of just 14 high school prospects and one junior college signee.

 

But there is good news. Attrition didn't hit the Hokies overly hard and there are freshmen and redshirt freshmen that could make an impact next fall. Also, the program that has been hit so hard by transfers in recent years added some potential contributors in that fashion.

 

Khalil Herbert, RB

The graduate transfer from Kansas will immediately be in the mix to take over for Deshawn McClease as the team's primary running back. Herbert rushed for 1,735 yards during his Jayhawk career and averaged 8.9 yards per carry his senior season before shutting things down after four games. He may be challenged by another transfer, Raheem Blackshear. However, the former Rutgers all-purpose back needs to get a waiver to play right away.

 

Brock Hoffman, OL

And don't ask Hoffman about the fickleness of those granting transfer waivers. One of the reasons that the former Coastal Carolina center came to Blacksburg was to be closer to an ailing family member. But that was not good enough for the NCAA and he had to sit out the 2019 season. With all five starters back on the offensive line, it is unclear where Hoffman will fit in, but he will undoubtedly see plenty of snaps.

 

Jaden Payoute, WR

Wide receiver is one position where the Hokies will need a newcomer to step up. Damon Hazelton and Hezekiah Grimsley were two of four Virginia Tech pass catchers to enter the transfer portal, creating a void behind Tre Turner and Tayvion Robinson. The former high school quarterback was a prized signee in the 2019 class and redshirted this past fall to learn how to be a receiver. The Chesterfield, Virginia, product will need to add some strength, but he has speed to burn.

 

Alec Bryant, DE

Bryant is the highest-rated player in the 2020 class and had offers from LSU, Oklahoma, USC, Miami, and Oregon. He's listed as a weak-side end but at 240 pounds already, he may grow into the strong-side spot. Emmanuel Belmar and Tyjuan Garbutt return at defensive end but Bryant could be a valuable role player for the Hokies next fall.

 

Darrell Bailey Jr., DE

Bailey is another recruit that could contribute along the defensive line. Out of the Greenback School in Greenback, Tennessee, Bailey earned offers from LSU, Oklahoma, Oregon, and South Carolina. His size (6-6, 255) projects him as a strong-side end to start out. One advantage Bailey has over Alec Bryant is that he enrolled early and will participate in spring drills.

 

— Written by Jon Kinne, who has been part of the Athlon Contributor Network for three years, covering the ACC and Notre Dame. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

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