Virginia Tech places seven on the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl watch list
Representing Tech on the initial Senior Bowl watch list are defensive end Amaré Barno, quarterback Braxton Burmeister, offensive lineman Brock Hoffman, linebacker Dax Hollifield, tight end James Mitchell, offensive lineman Lecitus Smith and wideout Tré Turner.
Tech’s seven selections are tied with Clemson for the second-highest total from an ACC program with only Miami (nine) boasting more.
The Reese’s Senior Bowl is the most prestigious collegiate all-star game and annually serves as the key step in the NFL Draft process. Out of the 134 players who participated in the 2021 Senior Bowl, 106 were selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, making up approximately 41 percent of drafted players, including 36 drafted in the first three rounds.
Tech safety Divine Deablo (Las Vegas Raiders) and tailback Khalil Herbert (Chicago Bears) were both drafted after participating in the Reese’s Senior Bowl in 2021.
Barno 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.
Burmeister owns a 3-1 record as Virginia Tech’s starting QB after throwing for 687 yards with two touchdowns, while rushing for 182 rushing yards with two TDs. The Oregon transfer ran for a pair of scores and threw a 12-yard TD pass to Mitchell in a 38-31 win at Duke (10/3/20). He ended the 2020 season on a high note, completing 15 of 22 passes for a career-high 212 yards, including a 60-yard TD pass to wide receiver Tayvion Robinson in Tech’s Commonwealth Cup victory vs. Virginia (12/12/20).
Hoffman started all 11 contests at center for Tech in 2020. The Statesville, N.C., native helped the Hokies lead the ACC in rushing (240.1 ypg). 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.
Hollifield 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 overall Hard Hat Champion for his performance and enthusiasm in the weight room during the off-season strength and conditioning program.
Mitchell enters his fourth season with the Hokies after leading the team with four receiving touchdowns in 2020. The Big Stone Gap native recorded 26 receptions for 435 yards in 10 games (nine starts) last season. In his 36 career games (18 starts) for Tech, Mitchell racked up 47 catches for 796 yards with six touchdowns to go along with five rushing TDs.
Smith helped pave the way for Herbert, who recorded 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.
Turner 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.