Virginia Tech Football: Will Hokies Live Up to ACC Media's Lofty Expectations?

Bryan Manning@bdmanning4Featured ColumnistJuly 29, 2012

Virginia Tech Football: Will Hokies Live Up to ACC Media's Lofty Expectations?

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    Last week, the ACC media gathered in Greensboro, N.C. along with each of the league’s 12 head coaches at the annual ACC Football Kickoff.

    In addition to the coaches, two players, chosen by the university to meet with the media, represented each team.

    Quarterback Logan Thomas and cornerback Kyle Fuller represented the Hokies. Each player was voted as a preseason All-ACC player; Fuller on the first team, Thomas on the second team.

    Thomas, however, received the second-most votes as Preseason ACC Player of the Year despite Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd being named the first-team quarterback.

    Members of the ACC media selected the Hokies to win the Coastal Division while picking Florida State to win the Atlantic Division. The Hokies received 83 of a possible 95 first-place votes.

    Here are four reasons why the Hokies will live up to lofty preseason expectations.

Quarterback Logan Thomas

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    The Hokies return a quarterback, who despite his relative inexperience, could end up being one of the top-five picks in next year’s NFL draft.

    Thomas was good in his first year as a starter in 2011. When he did struggle, Thomas would work on his mistakes and be much better the following week.

    If Thomas continues his rapid growth, his presence will atone for the Hokies having to replace eight starters on the offensive side of the ball. 

Bud Foster’s Defense

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    The Hokies were No. 10 in the nation in total defense in 2011.

    That was without senior linebacker Bruce Taylor, defensive tackle Antoine Hopkins and linebacker Jeron Gouveia-Winslow for much of the season.

    Injuries allowed younger players to get on the field and gain valuable experience. Each of those younger players is now a year older and these seniors return. Winslow’s status as a starter may be in doubt.

    Foster has talent at each level of the defense. The Hokies have 10 defensive linemen who could play a significant role in 2012. The Hokies are also two deep at each linebacker position.

Playmakers at Wide Receiver

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    Wide receiver would appear to be a weakness for a school that just lost the two top receivers in school history.

    However, the graduation of Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale has opened the door for talented senior Marcus Davis.

    Davis is big, fast and explosive. He tied for the team lead in touchdown receptions in 2011 while also leading the Hokies in yards per catch. Davis was third on the team in receiving yards.

    Fellow seniors D.J. Coles and Dyrell Roberts also return. Each player brings a different style of play to the position.

    Senior speedster Corey Fuller and freshmen Demitri Knowles, Kevin Asante and Joel Caleb could all play major roles in 2012. 

The Return of Cody Journell

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    Cody Journell’s reinstatement to the team last week was good news for the Hokies.

    Journell, a junior, was well on his way to becoming the ACC’s top kicker before being arrested in December.

    The Hokies' failures on special teams in the Sugar Bowl loss to Michigan were well documented.

    For a team breaking in several new starters, the Hokies could be in several close games. Having a reliable kicker is essential for a team that could be offensively challenged early in the season.