Blacksburg, VA — The Virginia Tech Hokies opened their 2012 spring practice season on Wednesday with some pretty glaring holes in its game.
Who will be the place kicker? Who will emerge as the frontrunner to replace 2011 ACC Player of the Year David Wilson at running back? How will the Hokies replace four offensive linemen? What about the linebackers? And how do you replace Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale, the two most prolific receivers in the program’s history?
Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer, who is entering his 26th season at the helm in Blacksburg, saw his first practice of the spring cut short due to weather. But, the team did manage to get in 8 out of 12 periods.
Tech began practice on Wednesday and will have practices on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with two open-to-the-public scrimmages on Saturdays April 7 and 14. The annual Maroon vs. White spring game will be played on Saturday, April 21.
Heading into Wedesday’s first practice, the only position where there doesn’t seem to be any debate is quarterback. Rising redshirt junior Logan Thomas was named to the 2011 All-ACC 2nd team after a record-setting first-year as the Hokies’ starter. After taking over for Tyrod Taylor, Thomas had one of the best season’s ever by a quarterback in Blacksburg.
During the 2011 season, Thomas:
- set a new school record for rushing touchdowns in a season by a quarterback with 11
- broke the school’s single-season total offense record set by Tyrod Taylor in 2010
- had 234 completions, 391 attempts and 3,013 yards passing, all of which rank second in Tech history for a single season behind only Don Strock’s records set in 1972.
So, the quarterback position is settled. But who is Thomas going to throw to? Let’s start with the wide receivers.
The Hokies said goodbye to the top two receivers in the program’s history; Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale, who finished their careers ranked 1st and 2nd in career receptions and yards. That’s a tough act to follow, but there are some talented players stepping in for the 2012 season.
Marcus Davis, a rising redshirt senior, saw his playing time increase last season and will likely be Thomas’ No. 1 receiver when the Hokies open the season against Georgia Tech in September.
Davis has played in 40 games in his first three seasons and started 10 of those. Eight starts came last season where he had a career high 30 receptions for a career-high 510 years and a career-high 5 touchdown catches.
Joining Davis are two other veteran receviers; senior D.J. Coles and redshirt senior Dyrell Roberts, who missed most of last season with a broken arm. In fact, Roberts has only played in 12 games the last two seasons because of injuries. He is a big-time threat as a kick returner and averages 26 yards per return.
Coles is in his final season and as the No. 7 rated player in the country coming out of high school, he hasn’t quite lived up to the lofty expectations, but is still a solid player. In 2011 he caught 36 passes for 480 yards and three touchdowns, which is pretty impressive given that Boykin and Coale were ahead of him.
With Thomas under center, expect all three receivers – Coles, Davis and Roberts – to put up some big numbers in 2012. Assuming, of course, that the Hokies’ new offensive line and his running backs can give him time in the pocket. We’ll take a look at those positions in the days ahead.