BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech's wealth of talent on the offensive line makes Vance Vice smile.
Vice played a major role assembling the group that includes true freshman Doug Nester, the highest rated offensive line recruit in program history. Tech's offensive line coach spent three years recruiting Nester and that looks like time well spent.
“I think if he continues to work hard, which I know he will, he’s got a chance to have a really bright future,” Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said.
Nester, who measured in at 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds at the end of summer workouts, doesn’t look out of place working alongside his teammates taking reps with the first- and second-team offensive lines — a group that includes 6-foot-5, 311-pound Christian Darrisaw, 6-foot-6, 359-pound T.J. Jackson, 6-foot-5 and 325-pound Silas Dzansi.
That size and talent was obvious on film, but the encouraging part for Tech’s coaching staff is Nester’s attitude away from the field.
“He’s incredibly diligent,” Fuente said. “He’s got some element of perfectionist to him in terms of wanting to do well and concentrating and focusing on the mental part of playing offensive line, which, it’s quite a load in there.”
Nester has the added challenge this fall of changing positions (from tackle to guard) and adjusting to a radically different offensive scheme than the one Spring Valley High School (West Virginia) ran.
“You know, at Doug’s high school, they’re going to run downhill 68 out of 70 plays, but with the pass protection stuff and picking up the protections – he’s done an unbelievable job,” Vice said.
Nester’s high school ran the ball 87 percent of the time in 2018. Spring Valley attempted only 63 passes all year while averaging 7.4 yards per carry en route to an appearance in the state title game.
“It’s good Play-Doh, if you will, to play with right now,” Vice said, with a smile.
Vice isn’t tipping his hand about who will start Week 1 against Boston College. While Vice hasn’t started very many freshmen offensive linemen in recent years, he’s not ruling anything out.
Tech started true freshman Christian Darrisaw last year at left tackle in Week 1 (he did have a year at Fork Union under his belt). Vice also started a true freshman during his four-year stint at Memphis (Drew Kyser in 2015 at center).
“There’s five spots right now (open),” Vice said. “With this group of guys and their mentality and work ethic, there’s legitimate competition at every spot with every person in my room. I mean, from the front to the back.”