The ACC Kickoff (aka media days) is fast approaching, something we media members consider the unofficial start of the football season. That’s not until July 21, however. In the meantime, it’s as good a time as any to start taking a closer look at Virginia Tech.
This isn’t a list of the 25 best players on the Hokies’ roster. It’s a list of 25 things/people/ideas that will determine whether Virginia Tech’s 2013 season is a success or not. Next up is …
No. 20: D.J. Coles, wide receiver
It’ll be take two at a senior season for the big wide receiver.
Coles was set to have a prominent role in last year’s offense, but he re-injured his surgically repaired knee in the opener against Georgia Tech, forcing him to the sidelines for the rest of the season.
It might have been a blessing in disguise for the Hokies. In Coles’ absence, Corey Fuller emerged as a serious threat. And now Coles gets to come back for another shot at his senior year in a receiving corps desperately lacking experience.
With 88 percent of Tech’s yards from receivers out the door with Marcus Davis, Fuller and Dyrell Roberts gone, the Hokies will need someone who is a veteran to lead the group.
Coles, who was beginning to emerge at the end of the 2011 season, is pretty much the only candidate. Coaches praised his leadership in the spring, even though he was limited with what he could do and appeared to be heavier than he’d like (something that figures to correct itself after a full offseason of conditioning without restrictions).
Coles’ biggest value might be his versatility. He’s 6-foot-4, 238 pounds, which is big for a receiver. Offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler moved him around in the spring, utilizing him as an H-back at times to try to create mismatches.
“I like it a lot,” Coles said in the spring. “I can out-run [linebackers] with my speed. Or it sets me up against a safety, who I’m bigger than, stronger than. So it’s good for the offense, it’s good for everybody because it creates problems all over the field.”
With a receiving corps that’s expected to feature sophomore Demitri Knowles (who’s football background isn’t extensive) and redshirt freshman Joshua Stanford (who, for all his upside, still hasn’t played in a college game), the Hokies need a target with experience that Logan Thomas can trust.
It’s hard to say how Coles will do after sitting out a year, but he has the background and skills to be a No. 1 guy.
Coming Tuesday: He directly tilted the outcome of three games last year.