Hokie fans have had the privilege to watch some absolutely spectacular running backs over the past four or five years.
First, they witnessed Darren Evans shatter the school record for rushing yards in a season as a freshman. Then Ryan Williams came along and broke that record and had one of the greatest seasons a Virginia Tech running back has ever had.
Then both Evans and Williams left school early to go to the NFL. Those losses were not a problem, however, as David Wilson became the featured back and ran for a school record 1,709 yards in a season in which he was named an AP All-American. Wilson then became a first-round draft pick, and that is where the Hokies now stand.
Michael Holmes appears to be the next back in this lineage, but unlike his predecessors, Holmes didn’t have a lot of hype coming out of high school. Evans, Williams and Wilson were all 4-star commits out of high school. Holmes was only a 2-star commit.
Michael Holmes is from Harrisonburg, Virginia and went to school at Harrisonburg High. Holmes has apparently been turning heads during practice over the past year, but fans have yet to get a real look at the presumed featured back (the spring game was cancelled due to lightning).
In one of the few open scrimmages of the spring, Holmes was able to break free and run for an 80-yard touchdown, which was his only real highlight in any of the scrimmages.
It isn’t fair to say that his lack of spring highlights is his fault. Holmes is running behind a rather green offensive line. The Hokies are replacing four of five starting offensive linemen. It is almost impossible for a tailback to put up numbers behind a porous offensive line. The line will get better (it always does) and fans hope that Holmes' numbers will come.
Holmes has some big shoes to fill, but luckily the Hokies have Logan Thomas who can take over a game with his arm or his legs. Hokie opponents will have their hands full with Thomas, but if Holmes can break out in 2012, then the offense could be close to unstoppable.