When Bucky Hodges arrived at Virginia Tech as a touted recruit from Virginia Beach, many assumed he would be the heir apparent at quarterback - a big, fast signal-caller in the mold of Logan Thomas.
One person who was not married to the idea? Hodges.
"I'm a big dude that can move," Hodges said matter-of-factly this week as the Hokies began the full-pads portion of spring practice. "So I always had an open mind."
So too did Virginia Tech's new offensive coaching staff, a group of guys who were involved only late in Hodges' recruiting and who saw potential in the 6-foot-6, 243-pounder to be a very good tight end over the long haul.
"You talk about a big guy that's very, very athletic, can really, really run, a smart guy," head coach Frank Beamer said. "I think he's got a bright future."
"We think (he) has a ton of talent," offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said.
Hodges, unlike Thomas, was recruited out of Salem High School as a quarterback. But Loeffler has gone about restocking the Hokies' quarterback ranks with guys he has recruited, signing freshmen Andrew Ford and Chris Durkin and landing Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer in his first year in Blacksburg.
If that didn't completely push Hodges toward tight end, the talents he exhibited while moonlighting there on the scout team last fall while mimicking North Carolina's Eric Ebron certainly did. He stood out on film at the position, making several outstanding catches and leading the coaches to ask him if he wanted to make a permanent move.
"They approached me about it," Hodges said. "They asked me. They didn't tell me to. I liked it a whole lot."
Hodges said he played tight end in Pop Warner up through the sixth grade before moving to quarterback, and thinks running routes and making catches comes naturally.
That's good news to Loeffler, who hasn't hidden his affection for the tight end position and already has visions of two- and possibly three-tight end sets.
Loeffler said the plans were for Ryan Malleck to catch 60 passes last year before a shoulder injury in August sidelined him for the season. In Malleck's place, Kalvin Cline, a true freshman with only 12 high school games of experience to his credit, still caught 26 passes for 321 yards and two touchdowns - tied for the second-most catches by a tight end under Beamer.
Malleck and Cline are both back this spring, listed as co-starters, although neither is doing full-contact drills for now. That means more reps for Hodges, who is listed fourth on the depth chart.
Hodges' ceiling as a pass catcher might be the highest of the group, however. He wowed in winter workouts, running a 4.46-second 40-yard dash and had a 38-1/2-inch vertical - numbers that were fifth and third on the team, respectively.
That athleticism is why Tech hasn't completely given up on him taking snaps. Hodges worked Tuesday as a Wildcat quarterback - or the "Wild Turkey" formation, as it was called when 280-pound quarterback-turned-tight end Greg Boone ran it years ago at Tech.
"He's a guy who I think can really help us," tight ends coach Bryan Stinespring said. "I don't think there's any doubt about it."