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. 5: Michael Holmes, redshirt freshman running back
He’s not the biggest, the fastest or the strongest. He’s not a home run threat on every play and isn’t a lock to knock a defensive player on his backside with ease. At first glance, you’d think he’s just … average.
And that’s where you’re probably wrong.
Michael Holmes hasn’t yet had a carry in college, at least not one that counts in a game. He redshirted last year, his first on campus, watching as David Wilson set the school’s single-season rushing record with an amazing flair, juking defenders, zigzagging across the field, out-running defenses to the end zone and, whenever possible, throwing a back flip (or 12) in as a celebration.
Well, Wilson is in the NFL now. And although it’s not a lock, it appears Holmes will get first crack at the tough task of replacing the All-American.
Duplicating Wilson’s numbers won’t be possible, but it won’t be necessary either. Virginia Tech has had ballcarriers with Wilson’s pizzazz throughout the years, but it’s mostly had workmanlike backs, those who grind out the yards, even if it’s not flashy. And that’s what the Hokies’ offense has always been based on — getting consistent yardage out of the backs, moving the chains, eating up clock and letting the defense hold down the fort.
That’s not to underestimate Holmes. He ran for 2,877 yards and 41 touchdowns his senior year at Harrisonburg High, production that is impressive regardless of the level. He was close to getting on the field last year but redshirted. Defensive coaches gave him rave reviews for his work on the scout team.
Those claims were backed up by his showing this spring. The 5-foot-11, 208-pound Holmes looked as confident as anybody in the backfield. His cuts looked crisp, his carries efficient. Although he’s not spectacular physically, he’s no slouch. He ran away from the defense on one 60-yard touchdown during a scrimmage, then scored in some goal line situations with hard-nosed running in another.
He might not be a star, but with quarterback Logan Thomas under center, do the Hokies really need another one? That’s not to say they wouldn’t take it, but with Thomas in the fold, having efficient players around him really will suffice. And Holmes could be that.
There will be others who will vie for carries. J.C. Coleman got a jumpstart by enrolling early. Martin Scales, a converted fullback, is a load to take down. Tony Gregory is back from a knee injury that kept him out of spring. And although Drew Harris is prepping at Fork Union, freshmen Chris Mangus and Trey Edmunds could be in the mix.
Still, it’s Holmes who is likely to get first crack at the job. You have to go back to 1995 for the last time Virginia Tech’s leading rusher didn’t have at least 700 yards. Eight times a Hokies rusher has topped 1,000. If he could be somewhere in between those numbers this season, I think the Hokies coaches would be satisfied.
Coming Wednesday: Two coaches. One post. Who could they be?
- 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
- No. 14: Dyrell Roberts, senior wide receiver
- No. 13: Detrick Bonner and Kyshoen Jarrett, safeties
- No. 12: Dabo Swinney, Clemson head coach
- No. 11: Key reserves
- No. 10: Frank Beamer, head coach
- No. 9: Bruce Taylor and Tariq Edwards, inside linebackers
- No. 8: Marcus Davis, wide receiver
- No. 7: Beamerball
- No. 6: Kyle Fuller and Antone Exum, junior cornerbacks