Virginia Tech has practice every day, but we reporters don’t get to talk to players and coaches all the time. In fact, our interviews are on Monday through Wednesday, and we don’t get to see much of practice. But stuff still happens that gets reported by the Hokies’ athletics site.
For instance, at last night’s practice:
1. Shane Beamer said all indications are that Joel Caleb will stick at tailback. He’ll get plenty of reps in Saturday’s scrimmage.
2. Mark Shuman worked with the first team at right tackle, keeping with Jeff Grimes‘ promise to continue to shuffle things up this training camp. Shuman has worked at left guard, left tackle and now right tackle.
I saved some material earlier this week to write a newspaper article. I touched on Kendall Fuller in some earlier blog posts but turned it into a full article for today’s paper. Here’s how it starts:
BLACKSBURG — His goatee belies his age, although Hokies freshman cornerback Kendall Fuller says that wasn’t his intent.
He simply wasn’t allowed to grow one at his high school at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Olney, Md., started doing so after graduation and likes how it looks.
It’s fitting, though, since Virginia Tech plans to ask the youngest of the football-playing brothers from Baltimore to have role far beyond his years this season.
The Hokies have placed Fuller in a nickelback role, making him the fifth defensive back on the field, a lineup replacement for whip linebacker Ronny Vandyke when Tech’s opponent has multiple wide receivers. But they’re not just looking for the precocious freshman to be in on passing situations.
“When we’ve been good, we’ve been able to execute at that position,” defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. “When we haven’t been good, we have been trying to piecework it, so to speak.
“We want a guy who can be in there to be a nickel guy, a cover guy, but then also run our defense. … And that’s when we’ve really played our best football when we’ve had that guy be a playmaker but also run our defense.”
Fuller and fellow cornerback Brandon Facyson could both play significant roles as true freshmen this year. I went back and tried to find instances in the last decade or so where true freshmen have made a mark for the Hokies. Here are non-prep school players who have done so:
- 2012: RB J.C. Coleman — 492 rushing yards, 2 TD (6 starts)
- 2011: DT Luther Maddy — 19 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack (7 starts)
- 2010: CB Kyle Fuller — 32 tackles, 4 TFL, 6 pass breakups (6 starts)
- 2009: RB David Wilson — 334 rushing yards, 4 TD, 19.1-yard kick return avg. (0 starts)
- 2008: WR Jarrett Boykin — 30 catches, 441 yards, 2 TD (8 starts)
- 2007: QB Tyrod Taylor — 927 passing yards, 429 rushing yards, 11 TD accounted for (5 starts)
- 2005: RG Sergio Render — Played 663 offensive snaps (13 starts)
- 2004: WR Eddie Royal — 28 catches, 470 yards, 3 TD (11 starts)
- 2002: DT Jonathan Lewis — 56 tackles, 7 TFL, 2 sacks (3 starts) CB Jimmy Williams — 46 tackles, 1 TF, 1 INT (0 starts)
- 2001: RB Kevin Jones — 957 rushing yards, 5 TD (3 starts) CB DeAngelo Hall — 42 tackles, 3 INT (1 start)
Left tackle Jonathan McLaughlin could also start this year. He’s a true freshman who attended Fork Union last year. Here are some prep school guys who also played right away as true freshmen:
- 2004: WR Josh Morgan — 15 catches, 346 yards, 3 TD (prepped at Fork Union)
- 2002: OL Jimmy Martin — Started final seven games, played 409 offensive snaps (prepped at Fork Union)
- 2000: DL Jim Davis — 28 tackles, 6 TFL, 3.5 sacks (prepped at Hargrave)