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August 21, 2012

Dunn hopes patience pays off with playing time at tight end

By: Jimmy Robertson

Coming off a terrific spring in which he won a spring award – the Frank O. Moseley Award as the offensive player who exhibited the most hustle during offseason and spring workouts – Randall Dunn is challenging Eric Martin for the starting tight end job. The two stood neck-and-neck coming out of spring practice.

Winning the nod would be a validation of sorts for Dunn, who came to Tech as a receiver out of Ocean Lakes High in Virginia Beach, Va. He redshirted his first year, but in a December practice as the Hokies prepared to play Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl, he broke his ankle in five places and also his fibula. The injury and the rehab robbed him of some of his athleticism and prompted a position change.

“I went to them [Tech’s coaches] about moving to tight end,” Dunn said. “I was coming off an injury, and I was a little bit bigger than I wanted to be at the time.”

Dunn went to tight end before his redshirt freshman year. He played in just one game that year and then in seven games as a redshirt sophomore. He played in all 14 games a year ago, but most of that came on special teams.

He resembles the rest of Tech’s tight ends in that respect. Chris Drager started every game last season, and as a result, Martin, Dunn and Ryan Malleck played sparingly. But now, after his great spring, Dunn figures to be used more extensively this season, particularly in the passing game. Slightly undersized at 240 pounds, he excels more in space and putting his receiving skills to use.

“I made some strides this spring,” Dunn said. “I grew in certain areas, and I became more familiar with the playbook. I’m able to see what’s going on with the other side of the ball and recognize defenses – things I didn’t see before. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m happy with the improvements I made.”

He’s also happy with the move to tight end. He just hopes it all pays off this season.

“The injury put me in the right place,” he said. “All in all, I’m happy with the move, and I think the coaches will be, too, after this season.”


86 Eric Martin (6-2, 258, Sr.)
9 Randall Dunn (6-2, 240, r-Sr.)
88 Ryan Malleck (6-4, 244, Soph.)
48 George George (6-4, 268, r-Sr.)
81 Duan Perez-Means (6-4, 237, r-Soph.)
33 Darius Redman (6-3, 259, r-Fr.)


Returning starter: none

Starter lost: Chris Drager (24 career starts)

Projected new starter: Eric Martin (2 career starts) or Randall Dunn (no career starts)

Top reserve: Ryan Malleck

Newcomers: Darius Redman, Duan Perez-Means (moved from defensive end)

Breakout candidate: Dunn

Notes: Martin and Dunn have combined for six catches in their respective careers (three each)… In contrast, Drager caught 20 passes in his career, including 15 last season … Both Martin and Dunn caught a touchdown pass last season … Martin’s came on a 2-yard reception at Duke, while Dunn hauled in a 7-yard touchdown catch against Appalachian State … Malleck was one of seven true freshmen to play a year ago.