Oct 5, 2013; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas (3) tacked the snap as offensive linesman Caleb Farris (79) and Jonathan McLaughlin (71) block in the second quarter at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
1. OT Jonathan McLaughlin
Entering last season, the Hokies had never had a true freshman start a season openerat left tackle in the Frank Beamer. That changed in the Georgia Dome against Alabama as Jonathan McLaughlin became the first true freshman in the Frank Beamer to start at left tackle in the season opener and McLaughlin would go on to do more than just that.
Jonathan McLaughlin would start all 13 games in what was a gamble by former OL Coach Jeff Grimes that will almost certainly pay off for Virginia Tech football over the next three seasons. McLaughlin had a very strong freshman season and earned plenty of honors including a spot on College Football News’ Freshman All-American Second Team.
Now, the sky is the limit for McLaughlin who could go down as one of the greatest offensive linemen in Virginia Tech history.
At 6-5 and 314 pounds, Jonathan McLaughlin has typical size for the position but he has definitely proved that he is a lot better than your typical young left tackle. The experience that McLaughlin gained last season will be valuable not only this season but also in years to come as McLaughlin will almost certainly become the leader of the offensive line after Caleb Farris and David Wang depart after the season.
However, McLaughlin is ready to keep on improving and the buzz around what he can do as a sophomore led Phil Steele to placing him on his Preseason All-ACC third team. McLaughlin definitely could even possibly challenge this year to be on the All-ACC First Team by the end of the season though that is something that seems more likely in 2015 and 2016.
For now, Virginia Tech fans can be excited about the bright future that Jonathan McLaughlin has in Blacksburg.