Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer sat at the ACC Kickoff a year ago, answering questions about an a then-unproven player in Logan Thomas, presciently showing confidence in the quarterback’s ability to thrive in his first year as a starter.
He had the same thing to say about running back Michael Holmes Monday in Greensboro.
“He hasn’t done it, but you think he’s going to be OK,” Beamer said. “I think he has a chance to be very good.”
The Hokies will have to sort out their running backs in the early portion of August practice, seeking a replacement for ACC Player of the Year and 1,709-yard rusher David Wilson, who went to the NFL a year early and was a first-round pick by the New York Giants.
Holmes, a redshirt freshman who emerged as the most consistent runner in the spring, is still considered the frontrunner for the job. He worked on the scout team last year after running for 2,877 yards and 41 touchdowns as a senior at Harrisonburg High in 2010, earning Group AA Offensive Player of the Year honors. Although those are high school numbers, Beamer thinks the skills translate.
“Going back, when guys have done it in high school and are used to carrying the ball, used to scoring, not fumbling — usually that carries over,” Beamer said.
Still, Beamer would like several ballcarriers to choose from. The Hokies won’t lack for options, even with touted freshman Drew Harris prepping at Fork Union. Early enrollee J.C. Coleman and converted fullback Martin Scales worked at tailback in the spring, giving Virginia Tech a shiftier back and a power one. Junior Tony Gregory returns from offseason knee surgery.
Two freshmen will join the mix too. Beamer said that two-way player Trey Edmunds will start out at tailback and praised the speed element that Chris Mangus could bring to the position. Youth doesn’t sound like a major road block to getting on the field.
“The further you get away from the football, the better you can use your talent and play quickly,” Beamer said. “A tailback, a wide receiver, I’d say it’s easier than an offensive lineman.”
While last year featured one primary tailback in Wilson, this year’s carries split might more resemble 2010, when Darren Evans, Wilson and Ryan Williams combined for 1,990 yards despite none of them rushing for more than 854.
“To me, we’ve got to get in there and narrow it down how many we’re going to work with,” Beamer said. “I think getting three guys that you feel good about and then you determine how many play. You want to play more than one, that’s for sure.”