Virginia Tech celebrates 2019 fan day

Virginia Tech offensive lineman Christian Darrisaw signs autographs on Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019 at the team’s 2019 fan day.

BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech left tackle Christian Darrisaw was an unquestioned success story during a roller coaster 2018 season.

The little recruited freshman offensive lineman from Maryland burst onto the scene as a Week 1 starter against Florida State. He earned national attention (freshman All-American honors from 247 Sports and ESPN) starting 12 games for the Hokies.

Darrisaw’s performance as a true freshman is all the more impressive considering he played through an injury nearly the entire season.

The 6-foot-5, 311-pound lineman suffered a lower body injury early in the 62-17 win — Darrisaw didn’t get into specifics, but it appeared to be his right ankle or foot at the time — and missed the following week’s game against Old Dominion.

“It was Week 2 against William and Mary,” Darrisaw said at Tech’s media day. “It was nagging the whole season. I pushed through it. I knew my teammates needed me.”

Darrisaw’s injury wasn’t mentioned again until Tech revealed he was one of the players not cleared to participate in spring camp.

“I think it was a positive,” Darrisaw said. “It allowed me to become a better football player. I watched more film, got stronger in the weight room and got healthy. I took lots of nicks and bruises during the season.”

Darrisaw proved he can physically matchup with the best defensive linemen the ACC has to offer. He held his own against some of the ACC’s top pass-rushers last year, Florida State’s Brian Burns, Boston College’s Wyatt Ray and Miami’s Joe Jackson, who are all on NFL rosters.

The injury gave Darrisaw a chance to focus on the part of the game that he felt needed work — learning the offense inside and out.

“It was all mental,” Darrisaw said. “Mental reps. When my teammates are out here, it’s sitting back watching them and if they need anything helping them out.”

At the ACC Kickoff, coach Justin Fuente said Darrisaw and Silas Dzansi, the expected first-team tackles, both impressed him this offseason with the way they “completely immersed” themselves in preparation for the 2019 season.

With talented freshmen and veterans pushing for playing time on the line, Darrisaw is taking nothing for granted.

Darrisaw already feels good about the chemistry he has with Lecitus Smith, who has been the team's first-team left guard since the start of spring. Smith started four games in 2018 (and played in 11) with most of his game reps coming on the left side of the line next to Darrisaw. 

“We’re all born in,” Darrisaw said. “We just want to get better every day.”

Mike Niziolek is the Virginia Tech football beat writer for The Roanoke Times. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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