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2024 Spring Game: What to Watch For

Drones Spring Game 2023
photo by Will Trent

The 2024 season starts this week.

And Hokies football is a sneaky riser on many people’s radar. Their play during the back half of the season had fans and prospects looking forward to what head coach Brent Pry was cooking. Twenty-two starters are set to return to the program, enabling the Hokies to keep 86% of their previous unit’s production. With a bowl win vs 10-win Tulane added to their resume, Pry and the Hokies have all the momentum needed to start turning heads within the college football world. There’s nowhere better to start than with some of the young gun early enrollees from the 2024 recruiting class:

2024 Early Enrollees to Watch

Gabe Williams | STAR | Laurel, MD

Per 24/7 Sports, Williams is the highest-rated prospect from the Hokies 2024 class. The Maryland native brings elite size to the linebacker position with his six-foot-four frame. His twitchy off-ball abilities also consist of favorable traits due to his experience at the safety position. Scout's main concern as of now is his size, but a few years in the weight room should fix that. Williams's long frame must be bulked up to match the physicality of major college football, so it's not much of a choice. But the raw traits he brings as an athlete plus his versatility make the build for an ideal STAR/LB for Tech going forward. Look for him to get in with the second string linebacker core this weekend, and then to be a fringe rotational player in his freshman season once Keli Lawson and others come back from injury.

Keylen Adams | WR | Virginia Beach, VA

Looking at the wideouts that Kyron Drones has built a connection with, Adams fills the mold as a “go and get it” type of receiver. The size Adams possesses at six-foot-two makes the fluidity of his game seem freakish. While he doesn’t possess blazing speed downfield, his release off the line of scrimmage will present a challenge for opposing man coverage. His play style focuses on his ability to high-point the ball and get open with his smooth, expansive route tree. It's sometimes hard to gauge how good these high school WR recruits are, given that they're almost always wide open in their highlight packages and have the luxury of playing without pads and with limited contact in camps and 7-on-7 tournaments, but it's hard to deny Adams's production. Adams has the Virginia state record for TD receptions (49) and did so against some of the state's best competition. Alongside young receivers like Ayden Greene and Chanz Wiggins, another member of this freshman class, Adams has a chance in this offense’s future as the lead X receiver. With Da’Quan Felton, Jaylin Lane, and Ali Jennings all heading into their final years with the program, the receiver room is wide open for young talent like Adams to take over.

Chanz Wiggins | WR | King George, VA

Wiggins may not have had the record-breaking high school career that Adams had, but his size and skillset is pretty special. He's more of your classic outside WR that could fit in well as a replacement to Felton and/or Jennings next season. Physicallity and length at 6'3" is really his best attribute, and he has made some spectacular contested catches in camps against some of the nation's best DBs. Wiggins may be a year away from major contributions on the field, but don't be surprised if he has some highlights this weekend.

Gerard Johnson III | EDGE | Virginia Beach, VA

Johnson is one of the most intriguing prospects from this group. He’s got work to do with his technique and pass-rush arsenal. I’d love to see this staff start working on making his momentum look more fluid. Expanding what he can do with his traits could turn him into a notable force within this system. Now, let’s talk about those traits. Johnson has prototypical size for the modern build of an edge defender. At six-foot-four, 235 pounds, he can play bully ball at an effective level to get into the backfield. He also shows outstanding effort extending plays across the field and even past the line of scrimmage. Now why do I love the potential Johnson has the most? He also spent a good amount of time at tight end. His speed downfield stood out on film and can be channeled into an extremely promising skillset on defense. If he works on eliminating some of the stiffness off the line of scrimmage, as well as getting hung up on blocks, Johnson could become one of the lead guys in Sacksburg. 

Tyler Mason | RB | Mount Airy, NC

The final player on the radar is another long-term play. Mason won't see any substantial playing time soon, but the talent is there. The group is just too crowded and Tech has their guy right now with Bhayshul Tuten and Malachi Thomas leading the pack, and redshirt sophomore Jeremiah Coney impressing the staff every time he hasn't been injured. But Mason is a highlight waiting to happen, so don’t expect him to stay quiet for too long. A three-star prospect across multiple platforms, his elusiveness and acceleration provide a lot of promise for his future. He doesn’t run through you, he runs by you. He fits the build for a three-down back, I’d just wait to see how he is as a receiver and pass blocker at the collegiate level first. Pry loves putting young backs on his special teams unit, it's exciting to see if Mason can stand out as a returner before he gets first-team reps.

Position Battles

The Second Safety

Incumbent team leader Jalen Stroman will certainly start at safety, and can play both the boundary and field side. But Stroman is carrying over an injury from last season and not in spring practice, allowing for a more than normal open competition for reps. The natural fit would be sophomore Mose Phillips, who got plenty of playing time last season due to injuries and targeting suspensions. Phillips is a menacing presence, but open field tackling was an issue last year, and at times it cost the Hokies dearly. If he cleans up the silly mistakes, including targeting issues, he'll be a good one.

Converted WR Jaylen Jones played more than any other safety last season, and had a mixed bag of results. At times he's looked lost on the field, but coaches have raved about his improvement this offseason. If he's more comfortable in his role now, he'll most likely start alongside Stroman vs Vanderbilt. 

Then you have true freshman early enrollee Quentin Reddish from Charlotte. Reddish shot up the recruiting boards, and the Hokies were able to beat out a multitude of other big schools. At a filled out 6'3", Reddish looks imposing and showed good coverage skills as a senior in high school. But safety is all about experience, and Reddish has none of that. But as we learned last season, you're only an injury away from playing big time minutes. Expect Reddish to get some run this season, but still maintain his redshirt eligibility. 

Right Side of the Offensive Line

The Hokies retained much of their offensive line from last season and brought in Georgia State transfer Montavious Cunningham. Cunningham has a versatile skillset, but played guard at Georgia State. He joins Kaden Moore, Bob Schick, and Parker Clements as guys who may be shuffled around this spring and in August. Also, expect to see sophomore Johnny Garrett get some action with the first stringers on Saturday. 


Last season the Hokies were not very good at linebacker. Bringing in Middle Tennessee transfer Sam Brumfield will anchor that group at the MIKE position, and you'd expect incumbent Keonta Jenkins to start at STAR, although he is not active in spring practice. Those two are on lockdown.

The WILL position is a major question mark, but the Hokies have options. Keli Lawson has shown flashes and is a physical specimen, but he has been held out of spring practices due to injury. Jayden McDonald started to play better down the stretch, but also had too many instances of getting caught out of position. Gabe Williams and redshirt freshman Tavarion Copeland will have their opportunity to get themselves into the rotation before fall camp starts. If Williams has filled out enough to handle the physicality of college ball, then he may slide right into the two deep.

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Virginia Tech was always the first and best option for me, but I would’ve never expected the culture that this school has been blessed with.

Since joining the Sons in February 2024, I’ve been able to appreciate the culture this school has from a whole new perspective. The memories Tech has left me with in just two years will stick with me forever. That first game in Lane was magic. Seeing Zay Flowers torch us wasn’t great, but that’s about the only thing Boston College had going for them that night. That night is a tough contender, but by far my favorite memory with VT athletics was WBB Senior Night 2024. Waking up at the crack of dawn to get in for College Gameday then transitioning to the most electric environment I’ve been in PERIOD at Tech will never leave my mind. 

I currently study Sports Media & Analytics and expect to graduate in 2026. When I’m not in class I’m either at the courts, at the fields, or talking about people who do either of those things way better than I do.

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