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It’s been close to a decade since Virginia Tech possessed a strong, tough, and physical offensive line. Thankfully, the Hokies have recruited well on the offensive line this 2014 recruiting class and those days are surely numbered. Brady Taylor was the last piece of the puzzle when it came to the “Fab 5” and Tech has no doubt worked to keep him committed, even when Ohio State extended him an offer last month.
Taylor has room to grow and he doesn’t quite have elite size for a tackle prospect. He’s 6’4” and 270 pounds according to the recruiting services. However, Taylor has good reach, he plays with good leverage, and he’s the type of offensive lineman that fits what Coach Jeff Grimes wants to do up front.
You can almost throw the rankings out the window when it comes to offensive linemen as you can see below there is very little agreement on how to rank Taylor. 247Sports likes him the most because they see him as a tackle that can move and be physical at the point of attack. ESPN isn’t as impressed it appears and they’ve ranked him lower than almost the other two services combined.
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Right now, it’s foolish to count any of our five linemen out of the mix heading into next fall. The downside is the one freshmen lineman that we started this fall went through spring practice. We only have one lineman enrolling this spring and that’s Braxton Pfaff, who greyshirted after a shoulder injury he sustained during an all-star game out in California.
Taylor will struggle to come in, add weight, and perform well enough to start in 2014 but he may do enough to dress and travel with the team. The Hokies depth chart at both tackle spots are going to be a little light depending on how Coach Grimes shifts the unit around this spring.
LT: Jonathan McLaughlin (So), Mark Shuman (R-Sr), Wyatt Teller (R-Fr)
RT: Laurence Gibson (R-Sr), Brent Benedict (R-Sr), Parker Osterloh (R-Fr)
Osterloh enrolled early last year as well but wound up redshirting as he needed to increase his strength. He’s a little bit of a wildcard heading into spring practice. However, there is one spot available there where the Hokies could decide to dress one of their freshmen and have him travel with the team.
That said, Taylor and all of our linemen could use a redshirt season to come in, get accustomed to college life, increase their overall strength in the weight room, and then step into the two-deep in 2015 when Tech loses six seniors on the offensive line. I think that would be the best path to success for this group.
Overall, I like Taylor’s raw physical ability. If the offensive line’s that Grimes coached at Auburn are any indication of what he can do here in Blacksburg, I think Tech fans are going to be very happy with the performance of our offensive line going forward.
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