Virginia Tech football released an unofficial depth chart on Wednesday, pleasing everyone from writers to fans. The flow of information is weak these days and any time a depth chart is released to the public, it’s big news.
For the most part, there were few surprises. Zachariah Hoyt is listed as the Hokies’ starting center, while Kyle Chung is at left guard. Tyree Rodgers is the No. 2 free safety, despite spending the first couple years of his Virginia Tech career as a cornerback. Brian Johnson is the starting field goal kicker, while Jordan Stout is slated to handle kickoffs.
But there was one glaring surprise on the defensive side of the ball. Khalil Ladler, a redshirt sophomore, is listed as the starting whip/nickelback, while Devon Hunter, the presumptive starter, is listed as a co-backup with freshman DJ Crossen.
Don’t get me wrong — Ladler is a talented player worthy of significant playing time. Ladler filled in admirably towards the end of last season, once Divine Deablo, Terrell Edmunds and Mook Reynolds were no longer available. Ladler, who enrolled at Tech as a cornerback, played both safety spots last season and the defensive coaching staff has trust in him to play just about anywhere.
But Hunter, the former five-star prospect who was supposed to replace Reynolds at the whip position, lost the job to Ladler? And not only did he lose the job, but he’s tied with a freshman cornerback moving to the whip position?
Perhaps this a slight overreaction, but something isn’t right. Hunter has lost a starting battle in each of the last two seasons, despite being practically handed the whip job this offseason. When is Hunter going to make a real impact?
When a program like Virginia Tech signs a five-star recruit, that prospect needs to pan out. It’s understandable for it to take a season, but Hunter has now had a full year in the program and still isn’t in a position to contribute in a significant fashion. Hunter will play special teams, but five-star recruits have to be something more than that.
Time will tell if Hunter figures things out. The Hokies are in good hands with Ladler at whip, Reggie Floyd at rover and Divine Deablo at free safety, but Hunter was supposed to take this group to the next level. Virginia Tech needs Hunter to step up soon, because the clock is ticking.