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Virginia Tech added another commitment to their Class of 2022 on Monday, earning a pledge from South Carolina offensive lineman Xavier Chaplin.
Chaplin’s a big guy — the 370-pounder stands at 6-foot-6 and likely will need a year or two before he can seriously compete for a starting spot. But he does not lack the size necessary to play, that much is for certain.
Chaplin is now the fourth commitment along the offensive line for the Hokies, a sure sign that Vance Vice is trying to backfill some of his misses over the years. That number could go to five if Braelin Moore plays offensive line instead of defensive line.
There was a point in time where Tech looked locked and loaded on the offensive front for the foreseeable future. Tech added four offensive linemen in 2018 — Christian Darrisaw, Luke Tenuta, Walker Culver and John Harris — but only one remains in the program. Vice brought in four-stars Doug Nester and Bryan Hudson for the 2019 cycle, but both have since transferred.
William Pritchard, another offensive lineman from that class, medically retired from football last season. Only Jesse Hanson remains from the Class of 2019.
So to recap, Tech lost five offensive lineman over two seasons to medical retirements and transfers. That’s enough to decimate a program’s depth.
Virginia Tech was unable to backfill enough signees over the next two recruiting cycles, leaving the Hokies in a precarious position on the offensive line. Tech has just 11 scholarship offensive linemen in the program right now, a number that could plummet after the season as players graduate or declare for the NFL Draft.
Remove those players from the equation and add the four expected signees from the Class of 2022, and the Hokies will have just 10 scholarship offensive linemen for the 2022 season, transfers notwithstanding. Add one to the total if Moore plays offense.
Virginia Tech has other holes they need to fill but adding bodies on the offensive line must continue to be a priority for the coaching staff. Justin Fuente and Vance Vice seem to understand the math there and despite having four commitments already, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that the Hokies continue to recruit there.
That will certainly be the case if four-star offensive lineman Gunner Givens decides to come to town. He’s got a guaranteed spot, should Givens choose the Hokies over Penn State.
Givens is expected to announce his college decision on July 16, so you’ve got time to get your popcorn ready.