Virginia Tech’s Unofficial Depth Chart Raises Concerns About Devon Hunter’s Career Arc

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.

Virginia Tech’s unofficial depth chart for the offense and defense for their Week 1 matchup vs. Florida State.
Virginia Tech’s unofficial depth chart for the specialists for Week 1 vs. Florida State.

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.

Excuse me?

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.

13 thoughts on “Virginia Tech’s Unofficial Depth Chart Raises Concerns About Devon Hunter’s Career Arc”

  1. This is 100% an overreaction. This doesn’t raise any concerns about his “career arc.” He’s going to play a lot this year. Should save this article and send it to Freezing Cold Takes for when he plays a ton. But you got me to click so that’s good.

    1. Overraction: He may have a slight injury, he may need some motivation. I think Wyatt Teller was listed as a back-up this time two years ago.

    2. For starters, I promise this wasn’t written just to garner clicks.

      I disagree that this doesn’t raise concerns. Hunter is a four/five-star prospect and I think it’s concerning that he’s entering his second season and isn’t in a position to impact things significantly.

  2. Looking a t the depth chart does not tell you how much someone is actually going to play. It is also the FIRST depth chart. Hunter could easily still play significant snaps

    1. He could, but it doesn’t look like it at this moment. Once Ladler gets snaps at whip, he’s only going to get better. Devon isn’t going to improve sitting on the sidelines.

  3. Did you consider personnel matchups? Hunter is better suited for run oriented offenses with possible H-back personnel. FSU has some fast slot receivers and maybe the coaches saw something in the OU and SFU offenses and how they play inside that cause matchup concerns.
    Bet Hunter plays in games like Pitt or Miami where there is a greater focus on running / TE offenses.
    I like reading your blog and wanted to give my view on why Hunter may not start against FSU. Bet he has a very bright career. This may be a testament to our personnel flexibility.

    1. I don’t think personnel matchups should matter. Hunter was an elite-level prospect. Those guys aren’t supposed to become platoon players. It would be different if he were still a freshman, but he’s entering his second season.

  4. Sorry Ricky but I think you jumped the shark on this one. I think Bud wants the most speed and surest tacklers on the field to start this game vs. FSU. To me, this is as much about getting both Ladler and Deablo on the field at the same time as it is about not playing Hunter. My guess is you will have to eat a big plate of crow on this one but only time will tell.

    1. Indeed, time will tell. Hunter could blossom into a great player but as of now, it’s not looking like it and generally speaking, five-star prospects make an impact by this point in their careers.

      1. You say “by this point in their careers” as if he just finished his sophomore season and played nothing but special teams and some limited snaps on D like he did last year. The fact is, he hasn’t even started his sophomore season yet so the only way he could have made an “impact by this point” would have been via his play last year as a true freshman.

        You are basing a very long-term projection on the release of a single depth chart for the very first game of the year. Maybe you will be proven right but everything I’ve heard the coaches say about Devon tells me he is developing just fine. Now if we get to the halfway point of the season and he still isn’t seeing the field much then yes, there would be some concern. But why don’t we let them actually play a few games first and see how much (and how well) he is or isn’t playing.

  5. Ladler played a lot at the end of last season at corner, and played well. Coaches might feel better about him starting in a big first game like this. This plus the coverage issue on FSU slot receivers may be dictating this lineup for the first game.

  6. You are right to be concerned! 5 star guys need to see the field by now.

    BTW just caught that you’re not w TSL anymore – not to open any old wounds or anything – just wanted to say that you’re a very good writer and though sportswriting is a very tough industry, I’m sure you’re going to be fine in the long run, talent and hard work do win out and you’ve got both.

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