Eleven Virginia Tech football student-athletes were recognized by Athlon Sports on Thursday as members of its 2021 All-ACC Preseason football teams.
Defensive end Amare’ Barno, tight end James Mitchell, and cornerback Jermaine Waller headlined Tech’s honorees on Athlon’s first-team unit; cornerback Chamarri Conner and guard Lecitus Smith were named to the second team. Defensive tackle Norrell Pollard, tackle Luke Tenuta, and all-purpose performer/wide receiver Tre’ Turner were named to the all-league preseason third team while offensive lineman Brock Hoffman, wide receiver Tayvion Robinson, and defensive tackle Jordan Williams were picked for the fourth team by Athlon.
Defensive end Amare’ Barno
A converted linebacker, Barno made an immediate impact in his initial season playing defensive end for the Hokies in 2021. He recorded 43 total tackles on the season, including 28 solo stops. The Blythewood, S.C., native led the ACC and ranked third among Power Five players with 16 tackles for loss. He tied with Tech DE Justus Reed for eighth in the league with 6.5 sacks.
Tight end James Mitchell
A second-team All-ACC selection of PFF College in 2020, Mitchell caught 26 passes for 435 yards with a team-high four touchdowns. A true tight end who doesn’t shy away from blocking, Mitchell registered a career-high 103 receiving yards with one touchdown and a rushing touchdown last season at North Carolina. The Big Stone Gap, Va., native has seen action in 36 career games (18 starts) for Tech, catching 47 passes for 796 yards with four touchdowns. He has also rushed for five scores.
Cornerback Jermaine Waller
A 2019 All-ACC Honorable Mention selection, Waller was limited to a pair of starts due to injuries in 2020. In 2019, the Washington, D.C., native tied for the Tech lead with three interceptions and tied for fifth in the ACC with 13 passes defensed. He enjoyed a breakout game with two interceptions, five tackles, and half a sack at Miami. In 27 career games (12 starts) with Tech, he owns 63 tackles (48 solo), 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 15 passes defensed and a forced fumble.
Guard Lecitus Smith
A member of the Hokies’ talented offensive line, Smith was a key ingredient in helping running back Khalil Herbert have such an outstanding season in 2020. He started all 11 contests for the Hokies at left guard. 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. Smith was part of a Tech offensive front that helped the squad lead the ACC in rushing a year ago.
Defensive back Chamarri Conner
Virginia Tech’s leader in tackles in 2020, Conner started all 11 games and registered 81 total tackles (60 solo). He had 3.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, four breakups, four quarterback hurries, and one forced fumble. Conner was recognized twice as the ACC Defensive Back of the Week. The Jacksonville, Fla., native has played in 37 games (24 starts) during his Tech career, posting 162 tackles (113 solo), 13.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, three interceptions, 15 passes defensed, 12 quarterback hurries, and a pair of forced fumbles.
Defensive tackle NORELL POLLARD
Pollard has played in 24 games (13 starts) in his first two seasons with the Hokies. The Apopka, Fla., product registered 30 total tackles, as well as 4.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in 2020. He earned second-team All-Freshman honors from PFF College in 2019 after posting 22 tackles, four tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, three quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery in 2019.
Tackle LUKE TENUTA
Tenuta makes the move to left tackle in 2021 after anchoring the right tackle post for Tech in 2020. The massive offensive lineman started nine contests at right tackle a year ago and earned PFF College National Team of the Week honors after Tech rolled up 314 rushing yards vs. NC State. Tenuta was a key part of an offensive front that helped RB Khalil Herbert register 1,182 rushing yards as the Hokies set a school record by averaging 5.58 yards per carry last season. Tenuta was a third-team All-ACC selection by both PFF College and ACC Network’s Eric Mac Lain in 2020.
All-purpose/wide receiver TRE’ TURNER
Tre Turner makes the Athlon squad as an all-purpose performer/wide receiver. A second-team All-ACC selection of PFF College in 2020, Turner started 10 games at wide receiver a year ago. 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 touchdowns. In 33 career games (26 starts) at Tech, Turner owns 94 catches for 1,617 yards with 11 touchdowns. He also has 41 carries for 392 yards with four touchdowns. He needs six more receptions in 2021 to become the 15th player in school history to reach the 100-catch plateau.
Offensive lineman BROCK HOFFMAN
A 2020 first-team All-ACC pick of ACC Network’s Eric Mac Lain, Hoffman started all 11 contests at center and helped the Hokies rush for 240.1 yards per game, which led the ACC a year ago. An honorable mention pick on the official All-ACC squad, the Statesboro, N.C., native was part of an offensive line that helped Tech score 27 rushing touchdowns on the season in 2020. In total, the Hokies amassed better than 200 rushing yards eight times, 250+ six times and 300 or more rushing yards on three occasions a year ago. Hoffman was named the ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week twice last season.
Wide receiver TAYVION ROBINSON
Robinson started all 11 games a year ago, leading the Hokies with 38 receptions for 592 yards, while ranking second on the squad with three touchdown 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 touchdown vs. Virginia. In 24 career games at Tech (18 solo), he owns 69 catches for 996 yards with four touchdowns.
Defensive tackle JORDAN WILLIAMS
Williams joined Tech as a graduate transfer after racking up 55 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, two pass breakups, and a forced fumble over the past three seasons at Clemson. The Virginia Beach native played in 38 games (three starts) for the Tigers, participating in 673 total snaps. He played in 11 games (three starts) in 2020, including appearances in the ACC Championship Game vs. Notre Dame and the Sugar Bowl vs. Ohio State.