The ACC Kickoff (aka media days) is fast approaching. I’ll be using the blog to count down to what we media members consider the unofficial start of the football season. This isn’t a list of the 25 best players on Virginia Tech’s roster. It’s a list of 25 things/people that will determine whether the Hokies’ 2012 season is a success or not. That includes players and coaches from both Virginia Tech and, occasionally, a few of its opponents.
No. 22: J.C. Coleman, freshman running back
One of the biggest questions about Virginia Tech’s offense heading into the season is how it will replace running back and ACC Player of the Year David Wilson. While redshirt freshman Michael Holmes has the inside track at getting first crack, the Hokies, like all teams, are going to need more than just one option.
That’s where freshman J. C. Coleman could come in.
Coleman, who enrolled early in January, got the bulk of second-team reps in the spring with converted fullback Martin Scales. You can also add Tony Gregory into the mix this fall after his return from offseason knee surgery and perhaps one of the true freshmen arriving in August (Trey Edmunds or Chris Mangus now that Drew Harris is prepping at Fork Union).
But Coleman certainly made his mark in the spring. Running backs coach Shane Beamer was amazed at the way the freshman picked things up and limited his mental mistakes.
“For a kid who is just out of high school [that] is amazing,” Beamer said. “I’d like to say it’s good coaching, but I think he’s a really smart guy. … We’ve thrown a lot at him in a short period of time, and he did a great job of picking it up.”
He was productive his senior year at Oscar Smith High in Chesapeake, running for 1,488 yards and 20 touchdowns despite missing three games with an ankle injury. At 5-foot-7, 170 pounds, Coleman is not big, so there are questions about how he’ll hold up, but he spends plenty of time in the weight room and is solidly built.
While Wilson got the bulk of last year’s carries, that hasn’t always been the case with Virginia Tech. A look back shows that the Hokies haven’t shied away from using more than one running back.
Coleman, who is a shifty, low-to-the-ground runner who the defense can lose tack of behind a massive offensive line, could add a nice element to the ground game if he continues to develop quickly. At the very least, he’d be a nice change of pace.
Coming Sunday: Spread it around.