Tech’s tight end unit may be the deepest position group on the squad, but James Mitchell is clearly the alpha male in this group. The Big Stone Gap, Va., native led Tech with four receiving touchdowns in 2020 and had a rushing score. No returning ACC tight end can top the 435 receiving yards he produced a year ago.
With big, fast pass catchers who are willing blockers becoming the desired prototype for NFL tight ends, the Hokies appear to have the next incarnation in Mitchell, who can create match-up issues and has shown the ability to set the edge as a blocker. And there’s nothing a quarterback prefers more in the red zone than a big, tall target who has the ability to get up and secure the ball in traffic.
Both Drake DeIuliis and Nick Gallo are even taller than Mitchell, yet provide similar versatility and blocking ability in addition to receiving aptitude.
DeIuliis made his first two career starts last season and had three receptions for 25 yards. The Charlotte, N.C., native has played in 25 games over the past four seasons for Tech.
Gallo has played in 22 games (five starts) since he arrived on campus in 2019. Last season, the Richboro, Penn., product recorded 11 catches for 83 yards with one touchdown.
Mitchell flourished as Tech’s top tight end target in 2020, setting career marks in receptions (26), receiving yards (435) and receiving touchdowns (4).
Mitchell (9), Gallo (4) and DeIuliis (2) all made starts at tight end for Tech in 2020.
Gallo saw action in every game last season and produced three-catch games at Wake Forest and vs. Liberty.
After developing Dalton Keene into a third-round NFL Draft pick, tight ends coach James Shibest appears to have another potential pro prospect in the pipeline with James Mitchell. While Mitchell could be poised for a big year, DeIuliis and Gallo give Tech the flexibility to utilize multiple tight end sets, which can be particularly important in short-yardage and goal-line situations.
With a good bunch of young players in this position group, tight end appears to be a spot where the Hokies will continue to be strong going forward.