Inside HOKIE SPORTS | Vol. 15 No. 1 | August 2022 19 OTHERS IN THE MIX In addition to bringing back Dzansi, Jordan and Moore, Tech also welcomes the return of sophomore Parker Clements, who saw action in 11 games while making seven starts at right tackle in 2021. The South Carolina native was deemed a member of the All-ACC Third Team by Pro Football Focus, quietly coming onto the scene after not seeing the field in 2020. Tech’s offensive line also boasts the likes of former Lord Botetourt High School standout Jesse Hanson. The 6-foot-5, 307-pounder saw action in 12 contests a year ago and should be a nice piece to have in Rudolph’s bunch. OL NOTES • Moore is the only returning member of the offensive line to start in all 13 games in 2021 • Dzansi has started 22 games during his time at Virginia Tech POSITION OUTLOOK Complement Rudolph’s stellar track record with the return of Dzansi, Jordan, Moore, Clements and Hanson, and the Hokies’ line looks to be in solid shape. Though there are big shoes to fill with some important departures, Tech has a wealth of capable successors poised to fill those roles. DEFENSIVE LINE PLAYERS TO WATCH With the likes of TyJuan Garbutt, Norell Pollard and Josh Fuga, the defensive line for Virginia Tech certainly will have a chance to be a productive unit up front. Garbutt, a sixth-year senior out of Fredericksburg, Virginia started 11 of his 13 appearances with the Hokies a season ago. The 6-foot-1, 250-pound lineman showed his versatility last season, making nine of those starts at defensive end and two at defensive tackle. He certainly produced, the former four-star recruit tied for second on the team with 3.5 sacks, registering 7.0 total tackles for loss in addition to forcing two fumbles. For Pollard, the Apopka, Florida native totaled 27.0 total tackles (nine solo) and recorded 3.0 tackles for loss. Fuga, who came into his own late during 2021, started three games but was productive during his opportunities. The Woodbridge, Virginia native registered 21 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. OTHERS IN THE MIX Mario Kendricks is also poised to return to the mix after missing a good chunk of 2021 due to a shoulder injury he suffered during the Hokies’ 26-17 win at Georgia Tech. The fourth-year junior competed in eight games a year ago. Sixth-year senior Jaylen Griffin returns as well following a season in which he quietly added 14.0 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. DL NOTES • All five of Garbutt, Fuga, Pollard, Kendricks and Griffin have starting experience on their collegiate resumes • The Hokies produced 25.0 total sacks and 68.0 tackles for loss a season ago • Virginia Tech returns 72 percent of its sack production from 2021 POSITION OUTLOOK It is hard to argue that Tech’s defensive line may be one of its most experienced groups from top to bottom as the 2022 season continues to draw closer. With the production returning to Blacksburg this year, the Hokies have every reason to be excited about what is to come up front under the leadership of J.C. Price. LINEBACKERS PLAYERS TO WATCH When looking at the players to watch for on this Virginia Tech team come 2022, very few catch your eye like linebacker Dax Hollifield. A fifth-year senior, Hollifield returns to the middle of the defense where he has been a staple his whole career in Blacksburg. The 6-foot-1, 239-pound Hollifield is coming off a sensational season in which he led the team with 92.0 tackles (44.0 solo), 9.0 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. He also recorded his fourth career interception, shining all over the field. The energetic linebacker also lines up on Tech’s special teams units. His partner in the middle of the field, Alan Tisdale, returns for another season, looking to continue his strong form. The redshirtjunior started all 13 games a season ago, finishing with 84.0 total tackles (44.0 solo), 7.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. OTHERS IN THE MIX While Hollifield and Tisdale receive the most attention in the room, and rightfully so, the Hokies certainly have a talented supporting cast backing them up. Keonta Jenkins is a playmaker who moves up from the safety position and can help out if need be. The Jacksonville, Florida product played in 12 games a year ago, and was able to produce 17.0 tackles. Redshirt-freshman Jaden Keller could also play a bigger role. The 6-foot-3, 216-pounder saw reserve action in four games during 2021 and can be an athlete that can make a big step forward from a development standpoint for the upcoming season. The same could be said about Clayton, North Carolina native J.R.Walker. As a redshirt-sophomore, he played in all 13 games a season ago on special teams and is another one who could find his way into the mix. LB NOTES • Hollifield and Tisdale combined for 176.0 total tackles in 2021, and combined for 111.0 total tackles in 2020 • Hollifield led the Hokies with 92 total tackles, including 9.0 tackles for loss in 2021 Continued on page 20 TYJUAN GARBUTT