Virginia Tech equipped themselves with a blocking tight end on National Signing Day with the commitment of Lecitus Smith
If there was one thing for certain with the first year of the new offense under the command of head coach Justin Fuente and offensive coordinator Brad Cornelson, it is that the Hokies were missing a conventional h-back that could be used prominently in the running game.
The h-back, which has been occupied primarily by a blocking tight end or athletic offensive tackle in the past for Justin Fuente’s offense, could very well be in the hands of new signee, Lecitus Smith, moving forward.
Smith, a 6’4″ 260 lbs. tight end out of Fitzgerald, Georgia, displays a penchant for downfield blocking, as well as athleticism to move laterally and make blocks on the edge. In a limited role, Smith also has shown good hands in the receiving game, and speed to run after the catch.
The Hokies are losing tight end Bucky Hodges to the NFL, although he was used more in a receiver role this past season than an in-line blocking tight end. The remaining tight end, rising sophomore Chris Cunningham, will likely split outside in a role much similar to Hodges, as Cunningham is more slender and in the mold of a hybrid tight end moving forward.
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With Cunningham likely splitting outside and being featured more on passing downs than running downs for the Hokies, it is likely that Lecitus Smith will be the favorite to see significant playing time in the near future as an in-line blocking tight end.
The coaching staff could also potentially line Smith up off the line of scrimmage and send him in motion in the h-back mold to become a lead blocker in running situations, which he did quite a bit of in high school.
Smith’s best trait is his speed and size that he couples with his strong blocking ability both in pass protection and in the running game as well. It is unlikely that he will be used much in the passing game at all as a receiver at the collegiate level, as it just does not fit his skill set quite as well as the blocking back does at the present time.
Another option for Smith moving forward with the Hokies is on the offensive line. Yes, the Hokies have solid, young depth on the line with the signing of this year’s class, but Smith could easily translate to offensive tackle given his athleticism and his ability to lead block on the outside.
In any case, it is clear that there is a spot for Smith’s traits on the offense in the near future for the Hokies, and as one of the more underrated players in this year’s class, his development in the offense will be one of the storylines to watch heading into the fall.
If he adapts early, he has the potential to be an immediate difference-maker in the Virginia Tech offense.