2018 Recruiting Recap: Offensive Linemen

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Nick Herbig OLB-Pittsburgh Steelers
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Jaylin Lane fielding a punt in 2021 at Middle Tennessee

Virginia Tech WR-PR Jaylin Lane, a former MTSU Blue Raider, caught five passes for 69 yards and one touchdown in Week 1.

Virginia Tech transfer wideouts Jaylin Lane (MTSU) and Ali Jennings III (ODU) both showed up monumentally in Week 1. The Hokies transfer additions go beyond the pair, but none more paramount.

Why, you might ask?

Lane produced four 100-yard receiving performances for the Blue Raiders in 2022. The Hokies had two -both from Kaleb Smith – who has since retired from football after transferring to Notre Dame.

Lane has a distinct feel for space on the field, especially versus one-on-one coverage in the slot. He created a pocket for quarterback Grant Wells at a sixty-degree angle on a second quarter box fade reception. Earlier -when aligned in the No. 3 slot- he scored on a 20-yard reception after gaining separation on a deep dig (square-in) pattern. Wells delivered clean passes on each opportunity.

Grant Wells QB-Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech quarterback Grant Wells (pictured with Marshall in 2021) accounted for four touchdowns (3 PASS, RUSH) versus Old Dominion.

His fearless nature overcomes any lack of size. Lane was once described by former coach Rick Stockstill as “deceptively fast.”

True indeed.

The 2022 second-team All-C-USA performer had 124 career receptions for 1,528 yards and 10 touchdowns at Middle Tennessee (2020-22). However, that “deceptive” speed shined as a punt return specialist. His confidence attacking the ball sets up middle punt returns. After all, Lane averaged nearly 15 yards per return for the Blue Raiders in 2022. On Saturday, he averaged 10 yards on two punt returns and caught five passes for 69 yards (TD).

Jaylin Lane WR Virginia Tedch
Hokies wide receiver Jaylin Lane averaged 14.5 yards/PR (TD) for MTSU in 2021.

And, if needed, he can do more too.

Middle Tennessee also used him as a gunner covering punts in 2021, when he posted three tackles.

Jennings’ way

He is complemented by Jennings III, who faced the school where he became a star worthy of ACC attention. In 2022, he lit up the Hokies –a school that didn’t offer him out of high school– to the tune of 122 yards on five receptions.

Route-running urgency, hand strength and overall quickness define his game. At the X-wide receiver spot, he wins versus press-man coverage. On Saturday, he got behind Monarchs cornerback LaMareon James on a third down fade down the right sidelines.

If the Hokies can get both of them consistently involved in the offense, could it make life easier for second-year starter Grant Wells? Wells accounted for four touchdowns on Saturday. After completing just five of his first 11 passes, the former Marshall quarterback missed on just four of his final 16 attempts this past Saturday.

One of the pair’s best connections came on a perfectly thrown corner route in the Red Zone. Jennings III burst into the pattern without a plant step and Wells anticipated the angle precisely. Jennings III finished off the 10-yard touchdown with an extension grab near the back pylon.

The Hokies (1-0) take on Purdue (0-1) this Saturday in Blacksburg as the team attempts to reach the 2-0 mark for the fifth time in the last seven seasons.

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