Virginia Tech Hokies' Early Outlook for 2009

Justin CocchiolaCorrespondent IJanuary 20, 2009

Virginia Tech went above and beyond what was expected of them this season.  They repeated as ACC Champions and won the Orange Bowl.  That can only mean good things for next season.

With the majority of the team returning and a couple of key players coming back from injuries, Virginia Tech will look to build off the 2008 season.  Tyrod Taylor and Darren Evans will be the anchors of the offense next season, with a receiving corps that has a year under its belt as far as experience at the college level goes.

The biggest loss for the Hokies this offseason will come on defense.  Victor "Macho" Harris gave Virginia Tech four great seasons at cornerback, on special teams, and on offense in his senior season. 

However, the defense shouldn't miss a beat.  Orion Martin and Brett Warren will also need to be replaced, but the Hokies have tremendous depth at every defensive position.

On top of what the Hokies have already, they have a top 20 recruiting class coming in.  According to, Virginia Tech has four four-star athletes coming in, which can only mean good things for the future of Virginia Tech football.

Bryan Stinespring was at the surface of much controversy for much of the season, but he was a big part of the Hokies winning the ACC Championship and the Orange Bowl with his play calling.  If he continues to be more creative with his play calling, we could really see this offense flourish next season.

The coaching staff has also said they want to work on a "hitch" in Taylor's throwing motion, which they feel will help him as a passer.  Next season will be Taylor's third as a Virginia Tech quarterback, and many college quarterbacks show their best progress from their sophomore to junior season. 

Darren Evans will look to build upon his great success as a freshman, rushing for over 1,100 yards, but he will have a lot of help next season as well.  Kenny Lewis Jr. will return from injury, and Ryan Williams, who was named the best running back on the East Coast in last year's recruiting class, will be available as well.

The offense should jump into the top 50 next season, which would be a quantum leap from the previous two seasons, where Virginia Tech ranked about 110th.  If the offense can get rolling for the Hokies, they should be a force not only in the ACC, but also in the national championship picture for next season.

Virginia Tech will be the early favorites to win the ACC for the third year in a row, but the conference will be much improved.  Look for Virginia Tech to receive a top 10 ranking in the preseason poll, and we won't have to wait long to tell if they're legit, as they open the season in Atlanta to take on Alabama, who should also be ranked inside the top 10.