How did the Underclassmen Recruits fair against Notre Dame?
Heartbreak is an easy way to describe the game against Notre Dame on Saturday. And as bad as the loss might have been to the Hokie morale, there are some positives to view when it comes to the underclassmen performances. A great mix of 2020 and 2021 recruits contributed a great deal to Saturday's effort. We will now take a deeper look into who and how some of those players helped out the Hokies.
Class of 2020:
OL Parker Clements: What everyone had been wanting to see out of Clements this season was finally delivered on Saturday. Nobody was expecting to see Clements as the starter at offensive tackle during the game. However, his presence throughout the game was noticed by the fans and staff alike.
With his eleven snaps on offense, Clements showed that he could easily start to be worked into the lineup. When on the field, Clements recorded the highest PFF Grade Offensively at a 90.2. This really came from his outstanding showing during the run game, with decent production in the pass block category. It would be no surprise to see Clements get some more reps going into the season further.
P Peter Moore: Beamer Ball looks to still be alive and strong in Blacksburg. Freshmen punter, Peter Moore, showed up to play against the Fighting Irish. His ability to pin the Irish back on their own side of the field for drives aided the team heavily. This was also the best showing by the punter that we have seen all season.
First off, Peter Moore had his longest punt of the season with a 64-yard bomb down the field to pin Notre Dame. And on top of that, Moore managed to average 49.0 yards per punt against Notre Dame, which happened to be his best average of the season. Altogether, the young punter accounted for 294 punting yards to help his team out.
Possible New Names: The normal names on the list were a bit lackluster for the Notre Dame game. The product that was given was not quite what was expected out of the young talent. Names like CB Dorain Strong, S Keonta Jenkins, and OL Kaden Moore all played below their true abilities against Notre Dame. A bounceback performance against Pittsburgh this weekend will be needed for the Hokies to get back in the win column.
Class of 2021:
WR Da'Wain Lofton: It was nice to see the rising wide receiver get a nice bit of reps on such a stage like this. Lofton was talked about highly in spring practice and continued to show his skill well into the season. We are starting to see Lofton get more reps on gameday than other wide receivers like Jaden Payoute.
With his twelve taken snaps at the receiver spot, Lofton managed to land himself a PFF grade of 61.5 offensively. On the surface, this isn't what you would call extraordinary, but it is his PFF Run-Block grade of 80.8 that stood out. On half of his snaps on the offense, Lofton maintained this grade for blocking, which means he could easily be used more in outside run packages for the offense.
DL Cole Nelson: Seeing Nelson start to shape into the defensive linemen that Coach Teerlinck and former DL Coach Darryl Tapp recruited him to be is a gift. Nelson has cemented himself as one of the young leaders for the defensive line early. Also, the Georgia native has been getting a decent bit of playing time for the Hokies this season.
It is hard to deduct such a performance from a mere four snaps, but Nelson showed a lot in that time. However, seeing Nelson ranking among the top players on the defense means he's doing what is asked of him. The defensive linemen found his niche on the line against Notre Dame, landing him a PFF Defensive Grade of 69.0. And also, he recorded a PFF Tackling Grade of 73.0, which was 7th on the team.
Possible New Names: There was a handful of the 2021 recruits that got playing time on Saturday. Some of those names we could end up seeing more from are RB Malachi Thomas, S Jalen Stroman, and DL Mattheus Carroll. Thinking from what we have seen from those three in the past games this season, it isn't a matter of how they fit in. But more so a matter of when. These three will continue to get reps through this season to set them up for more time next season.