Jonathan McLaughlin was an unknown entering last season but he made history early on in the 2013 season when he became the first freshman to start a season opener at left tackle for the Hokies during the Frank Beamer era. McLaughlin also became the first true freshman to start every game at left tackle in the Frank Beamer era and would then gain some postseason honors.
McLaughlin didn’t get many postseason honors but he did earn a spot on College Football News’ Freshman All-American Second Team. The bigger factor was that McLaughlin had become the Hokies’ left tackle of the future and there was no need to move someone who was on course to become one of the Hokies’ best offensive tackles ever.
However, that plan that shouldn’t have changed might be changing for at least one year.
When the Hokies’ latest depth chart was released at the beginning of camp, it was a surprise to see that Jonathan McLaughlin was the second-string right tackle and Laurence Gibson was at left tackle. Quickly though, we found out that this was somewhat correct but that McLaughlin was also not a starter for motivational purposes so it seemed pretty certain that McLaughlin would end up starting at left tackle as expected.
However, OL Coach Stacy Searels made it seem like McLaughlin might be starting at right tackle and Gibson at left tackle with his comments today.
OL coach Stacy Searels on Laurence Gibson moving to LT. “Putting your most athletic tackle on the left side is a smart move.” #Hokies
— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) August 6, 2014
Laurence Gibson is a talented offensive tackle with his athleticism being his top trait but you don’t put your most athletic tackle on the left side, you put your best tackle on the left side and that seems to be Jonathan McLaughlin still. McLaughlin also is the Hokies’ long term left tackle and Gibson has proven to be a reliable right tackle and is also the Hokies’ second best offensive tackle behind McLaughlin and ahead of Mark Shuman.
Shaking up the offensive tackles just doesn’t make the most sense at this time and in my opinion, Jonathan McLaughlin is the Hokies’ most talented offensive tackle and should be the starting left tackle.
In all honesty, it comes down to what Frank Beamer and Stacy Searels think about who the best offensive tackle is? That player should be the starting left tackle whether it is Jonathan McLaughlin or Laurence Gibson.
However, it shouldn’t come to who is more athletic? It should come down to who is better.