When Dyrell Roberts heard the news today during Virginia Tech’s football game-week press conference he was no longer atop the depth chart at punt returner heading into Saturday’s game at Pittsburgh, his initial reaction was genuine surprise.

“For real?” Roberts said.

It turns out he was probably more shocked he heard the latest depth chart adjustment from reporters than he was about the move being made in the first place. Roberts, a Smithfield High graduate, is accepting of the fact No. 13 Tech’s return specialist roles aren’t written in stone.

“I don’t even really think about it,” said Roberts, who is still listed as a second team kickoff returner. “I don’t even ask the coaches anything about it anymore. I let them do the depth chart, do whatever and however they want to set it up. If it’s me back there, I try my best to do what I can do. If not, I just focus on offense.”

With so many candidates to man the kickoff return and punt return spots, it might be a while before Tech (2-0 overall, 1-0 ACC) settles on players for each role.

This weekend, starting running back Michael Holmes is also slated to be Tech’s primary punt returner. Kyshoen Jarrett, who had a 46-yard punt return last Saturday that set up Tech’s first touchdown in its 42-7 win against Austin Peay, is the second team punt returner.

Demitri Knowles and J.C. Coleman continue to be the first team kickoff returners. Of course, the kickoff and punt return spots are subject to change prior to this weekend’s game.

The whole punt return rotation thing between Holmes, Jarrett and Roberts is an interesting side note for Tech as it preps for Pittsburgh (0-2 overall, 0-1 Big East), but there are other intriguing storylines involved with this seemingly lopsided matchup (Tech is a 10-point road favorite) – not the least of which is Tech’s quest to continue its nation-leading 13-game winning streak in true road games.

Oregon, which has an 11-game winning streak in road games, is closest to Tech in the category. The last time Virginia Tech lost on the road was Oct. 17, 2009 – a 28-23 loss to Georgia Tech.

“We’re going to talk about it this week,” said Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer about the keys to success on the road. “You’ve got to play the same way regardless of what day it is, what time it is, where you are – try to play with the same consistency.”

Pittsburgh won’t seem like much of a road game to Jarrett, who will be making his third start at strong safety for Tech. Growing up 4 1/2 hours east of Pittsburgh in the town of Tannersville, Pa., Jarrett got to know plenty about the Panthers’ football program. He was actually committed to Pittsburgh, which was the first program to offer him a scholarship, for a while before former coach Dave Wannstedt was fired.

Ed Christian, who was Jarrett’s coach at East Stroudsbourg South High, has visited Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster at least a dozen times during Tech’s spring practices to study film. Lines of communication with Tech coaches were already available before Jarrett reneged on his commitment to Pittsburgh.


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After Tech defensive backs coach Torrian Gray got involved with Jarrett’s recruitment, Jarrett became more interested in what his future might look like in Blacksburg. He soon committed to Tech.

Jarrett has friends on Pittsburgh’s roster – wide receiver Devin Street, quarterback Tino Sunseri, defensive back Lafayette Pitts and tight end Hubie Graham to name a few – but Jarrett isn’t spending much time catching up with them this week.

“I haven’t really talked to them lately,” Jarrett said. “I’ve just been focused on what we’re doing here. I really have no plans on really talking to them even throughout the week, because I want to be focused on what’s at hand.”

As for the whole punt return situation, Jarrett’s approach is similar to that of Roberts – just roll with it.

“Whatever the coaches want, I’ll do,” Jarrett said. “If one game I’m going to be doing punt returns, and another game I’m not and that best fits what the coaches plans are, I don’t mind doing that. Honestly, I’m just doing my job day in and day out.”