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. 14: Demitri Knowles and Josh Stanford, wide receivers
The Hokies know what D.J. Coles can do as a receiver. They’ve seen him do it before and, as soon as he knocks off the rust, figure he’ll return to that form.
Virginia Tech thinks it knows what Knowles and Stanford are capable of after last spring, although seeing both actually do it in a game would make the Hokie faithful feel a little more comfortable.
Tech isn’t flush with options at receiver after losing Marcus Davis, Corey Fuller and Dyrell Roberts, but Knowles and Stanford have the most promise of the youngsters looking to replace them.
Knowles, a 6-foot-1, 177-pound redshirt sophomore from the Bahamas who is one of the fastest players on the team, showed flashes of his potential last year, catching 19 passes for 240 yards and a key touchdown in the opener against Georgia Tech on a deep ball. He’ll need to round out his game, a process that appeared to be in full swing in the spring, when he proved to be more than just a deep threat.
Stanford, a 6-foot-1, 189-pound Canada native who enters his second year, was going to play last year until a knee injury kept him out and forced Tech to pursue a medical redshirt. (For those wondering if that had gone through, I’ve been told the Hokies’ compliance staff had a number of changes this offseason that delayed the completion of his medical status.) He had a strong spring, though, emerging as a favorite target of Logan Thomas, as evidenced by three-catch, 86-yard performance in the spring game.
Knowles finished the spring on the first team at the Z position. Stanford was Coles’ backup at the X, although Tech figures to use a variety of formations with more than two receivers, and receivers are rotated in and out of game more than any other position. So expect a healthy dose of playing time for both Knowles and Stanford.
Opportunity abounds. Davis, Fuller and Roberts accounted for 89 percent of the Hokies’ yards from receivers last year and about the same percentages of receptions and touchdowns. Someone has to fill that void for Thomas to be the kind of quarterback many think he can be.
A host of inexperienced players like Kevin Asante, Charley Meyer, E.L. Smiling, Joel Caleb and Willie Byrn will also vie for reps, but Knowles and Stanford look like they have the most immediate upside.
Coming Monday: He donned a Tiger Woods getup for the Hokies’ Harlem Shake video.
- No. 25: Ryan Malleck, tight end
- No. 24: Defensive subs
- No. 23: Andrew Miller, center
- No. 22: BeamerBall
- No. 21: Ronny Vandyke, whip linebacker
- No. 20: D.J. Coles, wide receiver
- No. 19: Cody Journell kicker
- No. 18: Tariq Edwards, inside linebacker
- No. 17: Detrick Bonner and Kyshoen Jarrett, safeties
- No. 16: A.J. Hughes, punter
- No. 15: J.R. Collins and Dadi Nicolas, defensive ends