We are just a little over two months left for the kickoff for the 2021 College Football season. Teams are starting to find their identities. College Football fans are getting to know a little bit more about their potential leaders and key impact players for the season with the release of nationwide preview coverages from Athlon Sports and Phil Steele. The Virginia Tech Hokies find themselves in a composed list of some of the most talented players in the ACC.
Athlon Sports has 11 Hokies on the first-team through fourth-team preseason All-ACC team, which is tied for third-most in the conference. Phil Steele has nine Hokies on the first-team through fourth-team. 12 total Hokies find themselves on the preseason All-ACC Conference list.
Both Athlon Sports and Phil Steele have junior defensive end Amare Barno and junior tight end James Mitchell listed on their respective preseason first-team All-ACC. Barno has the second-most sacks in the ACC among all the returning players from last season with 6.5. He is also the highest returning leader in tackles for loss accounted for (16). Barno accumulated 43 total tackles, 28 solo tackles, two pass deflections, and two forced fumbles.
Last season, Mitchell caught 26 receptions for 435 yards and four touchdowns in nine games played. He is the returning leader in receiving yards accounted for by a tight end.
Athlon Sports has junior cornerback Jermaine Waller as a part of the preseason first-team All-ACC, while Phil Steele has him a part of the third-team. In 2019, Waller accumulated 46 total tackles, 33 solo tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, three interceptions, and ten pass deflections. Last year, Waller played well in two games as the number one cornerback before suffering a season-ending injury. He will be back as one of the ACC’s most consistent and experienced man coverage corners.
Senior nickel/safety Chamarri Conner is listed by Athlon Sports and Phil Steele’s preseason second-team All-ACC. In the past two seasons, Conner has accumulated 149 total tackles, 105 solo tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, 12 pass breakups, and two forced fumbles.
Hokies junior left guard Lecitus Smith has been named a part of Athlon Sports’ preseason second-team All-ACC and Phil Steele’s preseason third-team All-ACC. Smith has started in the 23 games he has played in the past two seasons. Smith’s athletic blocking and role as a dynamic lineman have him earning early first-round recognition for the 2022 NFL Draft.
Junior center Brock Hoffman is listed on Phil Steele’s preseason second-team in the ACC and fourth-team All-ACC by Athlon Sports. Hoffman started all ten games for the Hokies last season. Sophomore left tackle Luke Tenuta was named a part of Athlon Sports’ preseason third-team All-ACC but excluded was Phil Steele’s All-ACC team. Last season, Tenuta started in all eight games he played, with most of them at right tackle. He will be the Hokies’ full-time blindside blocker in the 2020 season.
Redshirt Sophomore defensive tackle Norell Pollard, like Tenuta, was named a part of Athlon Sports’ preseason third-team All-ACC but was excluded from Phil Steele’s ranking. In the past two seasons, Pollard has accumulated 52 total tackles, 23 solo tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. The Hokies are going to be loaded at the defensive line in the 2021 College Football season. Former Clemson Tigers defensive tackle Jordan Williams is listed as Athlon Sports’ preseason fourth-team All-ACC. Williams has accumulated 39 total tackles, 19 solo tackles, eight tackles for loss, and four sacks in his three seasons at Clemson.
The Hokies have a great dynamic duo at the wide receiver in 2021. Junior wide receiver Tre Turner is listed as a part of Athlon Sports’ preseason third-team All-ACC as an all-purpose player and wide receiver. He is also listed as a part of Phil Steele’s preseason fourth-team All-ACC. This past season, Turner caught 34 receptions for 529 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 60 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries. In the past three seasons, Turner has caught 94 receptions for 1,617 yards and 11 touchdowns while also rushing for 392 yards and four touchdowns on 41 carries.
Sophomore wide receiver Tayvion Robinson is listed on both Athlon Sports and Phil Steele’s preseason fourth-team All-ACC. Last season, Robinson caught 38 receptions for 592 yards and three touchdowns for the Hokies.
Finally, junior inside linebacker Dax Hollifield is listed as a part of Phil Steele’s preseason fourth-team All-ACC but excluded from Athlon Sports rankings. Athlon Sports has Hollifield projected to backup sophomore Alan Tisdale in the 2021 season. Last year, Hollifield accounted for 52 total tackles, 21 solo tackles, two tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and two pass deflections. Hollifield has accumulated 182 total tackles, 70 solo tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, three interceptions, three pass breakups, one fumble recovery, and two forced fumbles.