Not a HokieHaven.com subscriber? Get access to all our premium content FREE until the Virginia game with our Hokies2017 promotion!
Virginia Tech announced today that linebacker Tavante Beckett has been suspended indefinitely from all team activities. The 5-10, 221-pound sophomore was listed as the backup at middle linebacker (behind senior Andrew Motuapuaka), so depending on the length of his suspension, it could be a tough situation for the Hokies to overcome.
If it ends up being short-term, the primary losses will be Beckett’s special teams production (though he had yet to record a tackle in coverage through two games in 2017) and getting him game reps to prepare for next season. With limited experience, and Motuapuaka and fellow linebacker Tremaine Edmunds playing nearly every snap for the position group, there haven’t been as many opportunities for a backup like Beckett to refine his game. The longer he’s away from the team, the less chance he has to do that.
If the suspension turns into a long-term ordeal, it becomes even tougher for VT. Motuapuaka will exhaust his eligibility at the end of this season, and his new backup, former walk-on Sean Huelskamp, is a redshirt senior. The depth chart at that position is wiped out if Beckett does not return to the team. True freshman Rayshard Ashby has gotten some time on special teams, as has redshirt freshman walk-on Daniel Griffith. The only depth linebackers (besides Beckett) to see game time thus far. VT signed a big linebacker class – four players – in 2017, and will probably look to playing some of those youngsters, as well.
Long-term, the Hokies’ ability to bring in three linebackers – as has been the plan for some time – looks a little more reasonable with another scholarship slot not only open, but from a player potentially vacating that position. If Beckett is unable to return to the program, it makes sense that the third linebacker becomes a reality.
Overall, it’s probably the best-case scenario for VT that Beckett is able to work through the issue that has seen him suspended and return to the squad. In the unfortunate instance he’s unable to do so, the Hokies have players ready to step up – but they may take a little longer to prepare for primetime than he would have.