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. 14: Dyrell Roberts, senior wide receiver
When Dyrell Roberts broke Virginia Tech’s career kick return record early last year, it was supposed to be an exclamation point on a career that will go down as one of the best in Hokies special teams history.
Instead, he broke his arm returning a kick in Week 3 against Arkansas State.
Bad news: he would miss the rest of the year with the injury. Good news: because it happened so early in the season, he could apply for a medical hardship waiver for another year of eligibility. The NCAA approved that request, bringing Roberts back for one more try at a senior season.
In addition to being a legitimate receiving option to pair with fellow seniors Marcus Davis and D.J. Coles (he has 63 career receptions for 965 yards and five touchdowns), Roberts could be just what Virginia Tech needed to give is lagging return game a boost.
Roberts’ 25.9-yard return average is tops in school history, more than four yards better than David Wilson‘s career mark. For varying reasons (blocking, not hitting the right hole), Wilson averaged a paltry 18.9 yards per return last season and the Hokies ranked 94th nationally in kick returns.
Roberts could be the answer … if he’ll do it. Kickoff return is where Roberts has suffered season-ending injuries each of the last two years. In November of 2010, Roberts suffered a severe thigh bruise against Georgia Tech that developed into compartment syndrome and required surgery. Last year, it was the broken arm before conference play even got underway.
Understandably, he had early reservations in the spring about doing kickoff returns again this year. But head coach Frank Beamer said he spoke with Roberts about doing it and the senior was open to the idea. He could be a candidate to return punts too.
Add that to his receiving skills — particularly working in the slot, where he lined up for a good deal of spring and often got the ball on reverses or end arounds — and Roberts’ overall value to the team is high. If he can knock off the rust and return to his old form, he can be a home run hitter on special teams and a play-maker on an offense looking to re-stock in that department.
Coming Monday: This wasn’t their original position.
- 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
- No. 16: Cody Journell, junior kicker
- No. 15: Brent Benedict and David Wang, offensive guards