Virginia Tech lands nine on Phil Steele’s All-ACC Preseason Team
Phil Steele announced Wednesday that nine Virginia Tech football players have been selected to his 2021 All-ACC preseason team, including two first-team honorees in defensive end Amaré Barno and tight end James Mitchell.
Offensive lineman Brock Hoffman and defensive back Chamarri Conner earned second-team status, while offensive lineman Lecitus Smith and cornerback Jermaine Waller were named to the third team. Linebacker Dax Hollifield, punt returner Tayvion Robinson and wide receiver Tre’ Turner rounded out Tech’s contingent as fourth-team selections.
Barno (6’6”, 235) enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2020 after making the move from linebacker to defensive end. He recorded 43 total tackles on the season, including 28 solo stops. The Blythewood, S.C., native led the ACC and all Power Five players with 16.0 TFL and tied with Tech defensive end Justus Reed for sixth in the league with 6.5 sacks. He earned All-ACC honorable mention honors last season.
Mitchell (6’3”, 242) enters his fourth season with the Hokies after leading the team with four receiving touchdowns in 2020. The Big Stone Gap native hauled in 26 catches for 435 yards in 10 games (nine starts) in 2020. In his 36 career games (18 starts) for Tech, Mitchell has accumulated 47 receptions for 796 yards with six touchdowns to go along with five rushing TDs. He was a second-team All-ACC pick of PFF College last season.
Hoffman (6’3”, 317) started all 11 contests at center for Tech in 2020. The Statesville, N.C., native helped the Hokies lead the ACC by averaging 240.1 rushing yards per game last season. Tech scored 27 rushing TDs on the season and amassed better than 200 rush yards eight times, 250+ six times and 300 or more rushing yards on three occasions. Hoffman was twice named ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week in 2020. He was an All-ACC first-team honoree of Eric Mac Lain and was an honorable mention pick on the official All-ACC squad.
Conner (6’0”, 211) led Virginia Tech with 81 total tackles (60 solo) in 2020. He also tallied 3.5 TFLs, two INTs, four breakups, four QB hurries and forced a fumble last season. The Jacksonville, Florida native was recognized twice as ACC Defensive Back of the Week in 2020. An All-ACC third-team selection of Steele last season, he was an honorable mention honoree on the official All-ACC squad.
Smith (6’3”, 320) helped pave the way for tailback Khalil Herbert, who racked up 1,182 rushing yards in 2020. The Fitzgerald, Ga., native started all 11 contests for the Hokies at left guard last season. He was named to the PFF College National Team of the Week after the Hokies racked up 260 yards and four rushing scores at then-No. 8 North Carolina. An honorable mention selection on the official All-ACC team in 2020, Smith was a second-team All-ACC pick of Eric Mac Lain and a third-team All-ACC selection of PFF College.
Waller (6’1”, 180) is healthy in 2021 after injuries limited him to a pair of starts in 2020. In 2019, the Washington, D.C. product was an All-ACC honorable mention selection after playing in all 13 games (10 starts) and finishing the season tied for seventh in the ACC with three interceptions. In his career at Tech, Waller has amassed 63 tackles (48 solo), 3.5 TFL and 1.5 sacks.
Hollifield (6’1”, 239) started six games in 2020 and made 52 tackles (21 solo), including 2.0 TFL and 1.5 sacks. The native of Shelby, N.C., has made 181 total tackles in his three-year career for the Hokies with 14.5 TFL for -59 yards. Hollifield earned the honor of Tech’s 2021 Hard Hat Champion for his performance and enthusiasm in the weight room during the spring season.
Robinson (5’10”, 187) started all 11 games a year ago, leading the Hokies with 38 receptions for 592 yards, while ranking second on the squad with three TD catches. He also returned 10 punts for a total of 21 yards and rushed the ball seven times for 48 yards. The Virginia Beach native tied a season-high with five receptions for a career-best 98 yards, including a 60-yard TD vs. Virginia (12/12/20). In 24 career games at Tech (18 solo), he owns 69 catches for 996 yards with four TDs.
Turner (6’2”, 187) started 10 games at wide receiver a year ago, when he was a PFF College second-team All-ACC selection. The Greensboro, N.C., native ranked second on the squad with 34 receptions for 529 yards (15.6 avg.) and tied for second with three TDs. In 33 career games (26 starts) at Tech, Turner owns 94 catches for 1,617 yards with 11 TDs. He also has 41 carries for 392 yards with four TDs. He needs six more receptions in 2021 to become the 15th player in school history to reach the 100-catch plateau.