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. 16: Cody Journell, junior kicker
He’s still technically suspended after last December’s arrest on a breaking and entering charge, which was pleaded down this spring to misdemeanor trespassing and 100 hours of community service. But it seems likely that Cody Journell will be back on the team come fall after last year’s mistakes.
Athletic director Jim Weaver, who is in charge of the reinstatement process, said he’ll meet with Journell monthly over the summer to see how his community service is going. If it’s any indicator, Frank Beamer‘s personal website still lists Journell as being one of the football players in class for the second summer session, even though he’s not on the online roster.
Regardless of what you think about Journell’s possible return, his presence would be a boost to the Hokies’ kicking game. Strong-legged Justin Myer served the team well in an interim capacity in the Sugar Bowl, going 4-for-5 but missing a crucial kick in overtime, a rough way to finish but still a performance that exceeded expectations for the career kickoff specialist.
He’s gone, leaving plenty of question marks at the position. Conor Goulding had perhaps the best spring, although he doesn’t have the strongest leg. Punter Michael Branthover, who was a standout kicker in high school, is a candidate, as is true freshman preferred walk-on Brooks Abbott, a U.S. Army All-American who arrived for summer school this month and could be in the mix come August.
But Journell was a proven commodity last year, earning an All-ACC honorable mention. He went 14-for-17 on field goals, making his last 10. His last miss, in fact, was in September. There is a reason he was the first true place-kicker out of high school to earn a scholarship at Virginia Tech since Shayne Graham in 1996.
Beamer likes reliability out of his kickers. Journell provided that … on the field, at least. And while it would seem a bit high on this list to put a kicker, so many football games are decided by the smallest of margins, that a single kick could be the difference (Michigan 23, Virginia Tech 20, for instance).
It’s no lock that Journell gets back on the team or even back in the coaches’ good graces, but if he’s back and if he’s playing, he could be a difference-maker on special teams.
Coming Saturday: They’re some big boys.
- No. 25: Randall Dunn, senior tight end
- No. 24: Donaldven Manning, freshman cornerback
- No. 23: Pick a punter
- No. 22: J.C. Coleman, freshman running back
- No. 21: Georgia Tech’s option offense
- No. 20: Antoine and Derrick Hopkins, defensive tackles
- No. 19: EJ Manuel, Florida State quarterback
- No. 18: Bud Foster, defensive coordinator
- No. 17: A fourth wide receiver