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. 13: Kyle Fuller, cornerback
It’s not that Fuller had a bad year in 2012. He didn’t. He was an All-ACC honorable mention by the coaches and media after finishing with 52 tackles, three tackles for a loss and two interceptions.
It’s just that he didn’t quite reach the heights many hoped he would and, surprisingly, had the second-most productive season by a Fuller on the team, overshadowed by his older brother Corey‘s receiving breakthrough.
Part of that had to do with switching positions (he played a true cornerback spot all year after essentially being a whip linebacker in late 2011). Part of that had to do with nagging injuries to his hip and ankle that kept him out of plenty of practices, even though he gutted it out and played 749 defensive snaps and 77 on special teams.
But fans should look forward to having a fully healthy Fuller heading into his senior season.
To give you a sense of respect the 6-foot, 189-pound cornerback has, teammates voted him as one of the permanent captains for 2013 after he was named the defensive player who demonstrated the most leadership in spring for a second straight offseason.
His on-the-field skills should get better, too. Fuller’s 2012 season is probably best remembered for the one play he didn’t make — the long ball against Cincinnati in the final seconds that cost Virginia Tech the game — than the plays he did. But remember, he was one of the team’s best play-makers in 2011, a versatile defensive back who isn’t afraid to throw his shoulder in the mix and make a tackle.
Fuller’s coverage skills are still developing and should be better after a full year of playing just cornerback. He’s also shown a knack for blocking kicks in spring practices. We’ll see if that will translate to the actual games.
He’ll welcome his younger brother Kendall to Blacksburg, creating the intriguing possibility of multiple Fullers in the defensive backfield. A five-star talent, Kendall should be in the mix to play early at cornerback, either in a regular role or nickel capacity. If he develops quickly (and Antone Exum isn’t quite ready for the opener), it’s not out of the question that Tech could have two Fullers starting at cornerback when Tech plays Alabama.
One will start for sure, though, and that’s Kyle. With Exum’s recovery status to be determined, the Hokies will need him to be rock solid at one cornerback position while they develop a group of youngsters.
Coming Tuesday: This tag team has a combined weight of 612 pounds.
- 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
- No. 14: Demitri Knowles and Josh Stanford, wide receivers