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How did the Underclassmen Recruits fair against Duke?

By Evan Norris | November 17
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John Parker Romo nails a field goal from 43 yards out

The Hokies return to the win column, this time out against the Duke Blue Devils. Virginia Tech managed to set a season-high scoring effort, which was twelve more points than their last highest. Nonetheless, this past weekend's game was a huge win for the team and gave a lot of young talent some playing time. We will now look into which 2020 and 2021 football recruits contributed the most to the Hokie's win against Duke.

Class of 2020:

OL Parker Clements: After the injury of Brock Hoffman during the Boston College game, we saw some shifting of the offensive line. This placed OL Parker Clements at the right guard spot against the Duke Blue Devils. And in a season where the young linemen had been struggling, he ended up finding his groove against a new foe.

At the right guard spot for the Hokies, Clements recorded 53 snaps at the spot. Inside those snaps, the young linemen gained himself a PFF blocking grade of 69.4. Half of that came from his run blocking, which sat at a rating of 65.8. And the other half came from his pass blocking that got him a mark of 73.4. Along with those numbers, Clements accounted for none of the penalties that came on the offensive side of the ball, which is something he had seemed to struggle with earlier in the season.

DL Wilfried Pene: Getting some major snaps this game more so than he had in previous ones, Wilfried Pene put on a show. And in a season where we have seen a nice rotation on the defensive front, Pene has gotten some decent reps. It is clear that he is still getting used to the system that Virginia Tech runs, but is adjusting very nicely.

The defensive linemen from France ranked 10th on PFF for defensive performances against Duke. He also racked up 1 QB hurry, 3 assisted tackles, and 2 total tackles in this showing of his skills. This was all inside of 35 reps, which was more than other defensive players we have seen this season like Keshon Artis and Armani Chatman.

Possible New Names: This 2020 class continues to provide players that contribute in excellent ways each week. There are a few names like CB Dorian Strong and OL Kaden Moore that we have seen consistently. I expect to see some of those types of players out of the 2020 class to give some huge performances heading into two crucial weeks for the Hokies.

Class of 2021:

DL Cole Nelson: One of the younger defensive linemen on the team, Cole Nelson, has been contributing solidly this whole season. This past weekend, he once again held his own on the defensive front. We should definitely see more of Nelson next season, and possibly even see him get a starting role.

In the game against Duke, Nelson played for 18 snaps. For those 18 snaps, Nelson ranked 6th on the defensive line for defensive grades according to PFF. He also accounted for 2 quarterback pressures and a solo tackle as well. For his tackling, Nelson earned himself a PFF rating of 71.5 for that category.

Possible New Names: I was tempted to put RB Malachi Thomas on this list for this past weekend. However, with a slight injury being aggravated during the game, it was hard for him to put up much of anything. Some other names from the 2021 class that can contribute some play going forward would be RB Chance Black on the return side of the game and WR Da'Wain Lofton. And if it weren't for a called-back touchdown, Lofton would have recorded his first touchdown at Virginia Tech.