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Trey Gresh dropped back, hesitated, then slung a laser to the back of the endzone where Randall Dunn climbed the ladder, clutched the football, and fell onto a Virginia Tech defensive back for the touchdown. It was a play that drew a lot of “oohs and ahhs” from the few thousand Tech fans in attendance for the Hokies 2nd open scrimmage this past spring. That catch highlighted our spring practice session and it gave Dunn some confidence heading into the summer.
Now in his final year, Dunn is searching for a role on this team. He’s not quite a tight end and he’s not quite a receiver. His 6’2” 240-pound frame makes him a tweener for those two positions. So, the Hokies may be forced to use him as an H-back this fall. Despite that, Dunn will still be an extremely important player on offense.
In fact, he may be one of our bigger keys to success. It’s been awhile since we’ve had a tight end that’s a threat down the field. With Logan Thomas being 6’6” the middle of the field will be more open to him in the passing game. That’s the benefit of those extra few inches. Dunn could be a matchup problem for opposing defenses. He’s still a little too quick for most outside linebackers and he’s big enough to give opposing safeties some problems.
Where the problem lies is how can we get him on the field without giving away what we’re going to run. The answer to that is Dunn needs to become a better blocker this fall, even though he is a little undersized.
"He can be a very valuable part of our offense on a situational basis,” admitted Coach Mike O’Cain after the Hokies 2nd open spring scrimmage. “He's not a guy who's going to line up and knock somebody off the ball. He can block, but he's not a masher."
Because of his limitations there, I think the 11 personnel package is perfect for Dunn. It leaves him on the outside as a blocker but it doesn’t give away whether or not we’re going to pass the ball on any particular play. Whether out of the ACE, Pistol, or Shotgun, it gives Logan the option to call a run or a pass depending upon the defensive alignment.
Dunn will also be used in our 12 personnel packages when we go with two tight ends, two wide receivers, and one running back. That too would keep defenses on their toes.
However, the main reason Dunn is going to be key to this season is his ability to catch passes down the field. In play action, he could be a huge weapon especially if our wide receivers struggle to get separation on the outside.
"He's fast, he runs good routes from the tight end position," O'Cain said. "We can get him matched up on people. At times he's our best matchup when they're playing man coverage. Get him matched up on a linebacker, that's sometimes better than Marcus (Davis) or Dyrell (Roberts) matched up against a speedy corner”
With Coles out for what could be another 4-6 weeks, I think Dunn’s importance against Georgia Tech and Austin Peay, for that matter, is huge. He’s not going to be a player the opposing team gameplans for so if the Hokies can use him correctly, it wouldn’t shock me to see him catch four or five passes in those first two games.
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