As another school year comes to a close on Virginia Tech’s campus and students wrap up their studies, the football team is just beginning its work for another season. The team is adjusting to new teammates, losing last year’s senior class and just as it does every year, changing positions.
This time around, junior Jake Johnson is making a move from linebacker to defensive end.
“We felt like looking and evaluating all our personnel, and we thought this might be a better move for Jake to be a little more productive,” said Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster. “We need some help at that spot. And we just thought it might be a good move for him and for our football team.”
Johnson enters his second spring season with a lot of work to do. For the past two seasons, Johnson has seen time on the field as a middle linebacker, but he and his coaches feel he might be better suited as a no-holds-barred defensive lineman.
“A lot of times at linebacker, it’s not only a mental deal as much as physical, where the (defensive) line is more of an experience based deal. A technique driven position,” said defensive line coach Charley Wiles.
“So we’re hoping by moving Jake there we can maximize his assets: his strength, his quickness,” Wiles said. “And take some of the things out of it that were tying up his feet some; the processing part, the coverage part. And kind of turn him loose a little bit. It’s going to be an on the job training type deal.”
Johnson started eight of the Hokies’ 13 games last season at the linebacker position, playing in 11 of them. He finished sixth on the team in tackles with 55, and he recorded two sacks on the season.
But Johnson isn’t worried about what his stats are from last season or the position change this spring. Instead, he is just looking forward to seeing Worsham Field again as soon as possible.
“I just want to get back on the field,” Johnson said. “It was tough going from making a lot of plays at the beginning of the season, half way, to sitting the bench. So I just want to get back out there and make some plays.”
The coaching staff sees potential for Johnson to make improvements through the spring, but it is taking it one day at a time.