The Virginia Tech football season is 16 days away when they kick it off against Old Dominion at home on Sept. 2, but one of their linebackers is getting some preseason recognition ahead of the 2023 season.
Keli Lawson was ranked 19th on Bruce Feldman’s Top 100 College Football Freaks List 2023 in The Athletic (subscription required). Here is what Feldman said about the sophomore.
“One of the gems of the Hokies’ 2021 signing class, Lawson flashed some of that potential in his debut season last fall, making 23 tackles and also had an interception. Tech is hoping he can take another big step in 2023. The 6-5, 220-pounder with an 82-inch wingspan’s athleticism is intriguing. This offseason, Lawson broad-jumped 11-2, hit 39 inches on the vertical, and clocked a 4.6 40.”
Certainly, Lawson will be in the mix to replace Dax Hollifield at middle linebacker and his 82 tackles in 2022. The Hokies’ defense last season kept them in a lot of games despite their 3-8 record. The offense is where things sputtered in a lot of games, except in their only ACC win over Boston College.
Big things are expected for Lawson in 2023 after playing in eight games last season, registering seven tackles, and getting just one start at linebacker, but did have an interception return for a touchdown against Georgia Tech. Coach Brent Pry will lean on Lawson to fill the void left by Hollifield and the 32nd-ranked player out of Virginia by Rival appears ready for the challenge.
Other linebackers that Pry has at his disposal for this season are Keonta Jenkins, and Jaden Keller, as well as Alan Tisdale and Jayen McDonald. Tech’s coach has plenty of options at linebacker this season, which should be one of their strengths on defense.
They will get a good test in the opener against Old Dominion and they will be looking to avenge last season’s loss to the Sun Belt Conference opponent.