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. 11: Young cornerbacks
We covered defensive subs earlier on the countdown, but cornerback is a special kind of position, one where a player might not necessarily start a game but could see plenty of time on the field.
And that’s why Virginia Tech needs to develop as many cornerbacks as it can.
It’s not just that Antone Exum‘s status for the opener is up in the air after offseason ACL surgery. Who knows exactly what kind of player he’ll be coming back from that kind of injury? Everyone reacts differently. And for as much as the team has high hopes about Kyle Fuller‘s senior season, his junior year was still beset by nagging injuries.
All that is another way to say that you can never tell how quickly your depth will become dire at a position, and cornerback is as vulnerable of a spot on the field as there is when it comes to inexperienced players being picked on.
Witness last year, when Donaldven Manning and Donovan Riley were called on earlier than the coaches would have liked. Manning had a forgettable Cincinnati game and was never really the same. Riley had his ups and downs too, but that’s expected of a true freshman.
There’s reason for a little more hope from those youngsters this year. Manning and Riley (and Davion Tookes, who didn’t play last year but came on at the end of spring) are a year older, having been able to go through a full spring (or another, in Manning’s case) and a full year in the strength and conditioning program. They should be much improved.
But there’s also a pair of promising true freshmen in Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson. Fuller, the youngest of the Baltimore brothers who have all attended Tech, got here in May and is being brought up to speed by his older brother, Kyle, as good of a tutor as you’ll find. Coaches think the five-star prospect can make an impact right away.
Facyson, a tall, rangy corner, is less-heralded, although he made a big impression in the spring after enrolling early, turning some heads as Fuller’s backup and giving credence to the idea that he could compete for a starting spot in the opener if Exum doesn’t return in time.
Even if he does, it’s nice to have plenty of depth in the defensive backfield, especially if the Hokies plan to use the nickel formation much this year. Tech got burned by a lack of cornerback depth last year. With the personnel in place a year later, however, it’s better situated to handle the unexpected.
Coming Thursday: He did something last year only one other Tech player had done in the last five years.
- 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
- No. 13: Kyle Fuller, cornerback
- No. 12: Derrick Hopkins and Luther Maddy, defensive tackles