Virginia Tech’s spring practice is fast approaching, with drills beginning March 27. To prepare you for what should be a highly-anticipated spring session, I’ll be breaking down the Hokies by position groups over the next week and a half.
As usual, I’ll start with quarterbacks and work my way through the rest of the positions.
The 2012 numbers
– Logan Thomas: 220-429, 51.3%, 2,976 passing yards, 18 TD, 16 INT, 524 rushing yards, 9 TD
– Mark Leal: 4-6, 66.7%, 26 yards, 0 TD, INT
– Logan Thomas, r-Sr.
– Mark Leal, r-Jr.
– Trey Gresh, r-Jr.
– Brian Rody, r-So. (walk-on)
– Brenden Motley, r-Fr.
– Connor Jessop, r-Fr. (walk-on)
– Quinton Taylor, r-Fr. (walk-on)
– Carlis Parker, Fr.
– Bucky Hodges, Fr.
Will the arrival of new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler help Thomas shake off a disappointing 2012 season and regain his 2011 form?
The star attraction
Thomas actually broke his own single-season school yardage record last year, combining for 3,500 rushing and receiving yards. But anybody who watched him play knows he wasn’t nearly as efficient. His completion percentage dropped by 8.5 percent to 51.3 and his 16 interceptions were tied for fourth-most nationally, although not all of them were his fault. But there’s a clean slate heading into 2013, with Loeffler taking over for Mike O’Cain as Thomas’ position coach. Loeffler has done a good job in quarterback development over his career, tutoring such future NFL players as Tom Brady, Chad Henne and Tim Tebow, among others. Thomas will be his latest project. How the two mesh will probably define the Hokies’ season.
Nobody is unseating Thomas for the starting job, but it’ll be interesting to see how the quarterbacks position themselves for 2014 and beyond. Leal has been the backup the last two seasons, although he’s gotten next to no playing time in actual games, coming in for mop-up duty in a few instances. Last spring was supposed to be his big showcase, but an illness kept him out for the latter half of drills. He and Gresh should get most of the reps behind Thomas, with Motley possibly getting some looks, but looking longer term, there are some talented youngsters coming up through the system that could challenge for playing time once Thomas departs.
The new guys
Parker is the one who will be here in the spring. The athletic left-hander who, fair or not, has drawn comparisons to Michael Vick, enrolled early to get a jump on his college career. Despite what appears to be a glut of quarterbacks, Parker has been told he’ll be given a shot as the position, and all the coaches on signing day said something to that effect. Hodges, one of the highest-ranked recruits in the 2013 class, has been considered by many to be the heir apparent to Thomas. They’re near carbon copies of each other. Hodges is 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, roughly the same size that Thomas was coming out of high school. He won’t arrive until the summer and will likely redshirt this fall, but he’ll be a factor in the quarterback race down the line.
The wild card
Motley, from nearby Christiansburg, spent his freshman year on the scout team. An option quarterback in high school, he needed time to develop in a college system. The previous offensive coaches viewed him as a quarterback. It’ll be interesting to see what the current group thinks. Remember, the 6-foot-3, 207-pound Motley was a two-way standout for the Blue Demons who had 17 tackles and a forced fumble as a safety in the state final vs. Briar Woods. With the quarterback roster replenished and Loeffler recruiting his own guys in the future, will Motley stay under center or help Tech in different ways?
By coming back, Thomas virtually assures himself of setting several school passing records, provided he stays healthy. He’ll pass Tyrod Taylor on Tech’s career lists with 30 completions and 922 passing yards. He’ll pass Bryan Randall with 12 touchdown passes.