Pittsburgh Panthers at Virginia Tech Hokies
Lane Stadium – Blacksburg, VA
Score: Pittsburgh (14), Virginia Tech (20)
Wyatt Teller shines
Add Virginia Tech senior offensive guard Wyatt Teller to your watch list; he can player. Listed at 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds, Teller offers a blend of power and mobility to pair with his ideal stature. Against Pitt, Teller excelled when given opportunities to pull and work as a lead/trap blocker. He consistently arrives to his landmarks on schedule and does extremely well to square up and clear space for his ball carriers.
Teller impressed me with his hand usage; they were always held high and his punch was powerful, deliberate and compact. It’s clear that he plays with a mean streak and blocks through the whistle. He excelled in pass pro both when uncovered as a help defender and mirror rushers. I am looking forward to taking a deeper dive into his film but it appears we have another quality interior offensive lineman to consider in this class.
Tremaine Edmunds is a first round talent
There is no certainty that he declares for the 2018 NFL Draft but junior linebacker Tremaine Edmunds has all the traits necessary to warrant a selection among the first 32 this spring. Listed at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, Edmunds looks like a defensive end but has the mobility of an off-ball linebacker.
Edmunds offers a combination of length, power, burst and processing skills that enables him to make all over the field. He particularly excels at playing forward against the run but has ability as both a pass rusher and in coverage. There are some grumblings that Edmunds may return to Virginia Tech but I believe he should be starting as a 4-3 strong side linebacker in the NFL.
Against Pitt, Edmunds racked up 7 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack and 2 quarterback hurries.
Both Hokie corners have NFL potential
While I am not banging the table for them to be high picks, senior cornerbacks Greg Stroman and Brandon Facyson will hear their names called next spring. While Facyson has more notoriety, Stroman made splash plays against Pitt with a huge mid-fourth quarter interception that set up Virginia Tech’s go-ahead touchdown. The interception was a tremendous exhibit of his ability to locate the football, adjust and bring in the football outstanding body control. Stroman also had another impressive pass breakup and his ball skills were evident on Saturday.
Facyson also had positive moments in coverage where he was tested and demonstrated good physicality at the catch point. Both corners play with balanced and patient footwork.
Brian O’Neill gaining momentum
I watched Pittsburgh offensive tackle Brian O’Neill over the summer and was not blown away. His mobility was evident but I questioned the power components of his game. Saturday was my second live exposure to him and I have to say that I have now come away impressed on both occasions.
O’Neill continues to showcase the eye-catching foot quickness and length that immediately captures your attention but his functional strength has improved tremendously. His ability to anchor and absorb contact looks good while he is also demonstrating the ability to move bodies at the line of scrimmage. There were a few reps where he was able to completely cave in the right side of Virginia Tech’s offensive line.
The more evident play strength O’Neill has showcased complements his ability to mirror rushers and handle speed off the edge which has him picking up steam as a prospect as the seasons comes to a close.
Jordan Whitehead continues to look good
Pittsburgh safety Jordan Whitehead isn’t talked enough about (except by our National Scout Jonah Tuls), but he is a quality free safety prospect that is also physical. Whitehead’s athletic ability and burst to cover distances rapidly are obvious and he attacks with intent. While he did come up empty once in space against Virginia Tech, Whitehead is usually a very secure tackler that aims low and wraps up.
There are some occasions where Whitehead has struggles anticipating routes out of bunch sets but there is no questioning his ability to carry routes into space and remain in phase. Whitehead is a versatile player that can fill a variety of roles.
Senior receivers for both teams have big games
Becoming the schools all-time leader in receiving, Virginia Tech’s Cam Phillips hauled in 8 receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown against Pitt. Showcasing both the ability to track the ball and adjust vertically, Phillips also had some impressive releases off the line of scrimmage that turned into completions and yards after the catch.
Pitt’s Jester Weah caught a 73-yard pass on fourth down that setup the Panther’s attempt at a game-winning touchdown that ultimately came up empty. Weah was plagued by poor throws but did well to try to position himself to compete at the catch point. Weah’s ball skills and ability to establish his frame at the catch point gives him a chance at the next level.