Virginia Tech Football: 5 Players Who Must Step Up in 2012
After back-to-back losses to Clemson in the ACC championship game and Michigan in the Sugar Bowl to finish out the 2011 season, Virginia Tech will be hungry in 2012.
The Hokies have a lot to be optimistic about, as Bud Foster's 10th ranked defense returns nine starters and quarterback Logan Thomas will lead the offense.
However, every team has room for improvement.
Virginia Tech lost some key players after the 2011 season, especially on offense. New players must enter starting roles and fill those gaps to continue the Hokies' success.
Here is a look at five Virginia Tech players who must step up and emerge as studs in 2012.
This one should be pretty obvious. After three straight years of dominance by running backs Darren Evans, Ryan Williams and David Wilson, it's pretty clear how much Frank Beamer relies on his running game.
2012 is the first year in a while that the Hokies don't have a clear-cut No. 1 back heading into the season.
With that being said, Michael Holmes is a very promising young talent.
The 5'11" 208-pound redshirt freshman possesses a nice balance of speed and strength, and he has impressed coaches so far this offseason.
If Holmes can step up and carry Virginia Tech's ground attack, he'll force opposing defenses to respect the run and continue the Hokies' tradition of great backs.
If Michael Holmes can be effective on the ground, he will open things up for senior wide receiver Marcus Davis.
Davis is an outstanding athlete who is a matchup nightmare for any defender. The senior stands in at 6'4" and 228 pounds, so he can outrun safeties and catch the ball over cornerbacks.
In 2011, he racked up 30 catches for 510 yards and five touchdowns.
Probably one of the most underrated receivers in the ACC, Davis has yet to recognize his full potential, which is a scary thought.
With the departure of the Hokies' two leading receivers from last year and a great quarterback in Logan Thomas, Davis must emerge as a true No. 1 receiver for Virginia Tech in 2012.
Probably the biggest concern for the Hokies going into 2012 is their offensive line.
Virginia Tech's front wall returns only one starter in junior center Andrew Miller, who must become a leader in the middle of a very inexperienced line.
Miller is a tough, physical player with a nasty streak and great drive.
The 6'4" 300-pounder is exactly what the Hokies need up front to pave the way for their rushing attack.
With all the youth surrounding him, it is imperative that Miller step up and become the leader of Virginia Tech's offensive line in 2012.
While Andrew Miller will be a key interior lineman during the upcoming season, Nick Becton is the key to protecting Logan Thomas' blind side.
Becton was a part-time starter in 2011, so he has a bit of experience.
The senior left tackle has a huge frame, standing in at 6'6" and 328 pounds.
That size, which comes with tremendous strength and arm length, makes Becton an excellent protector of the pocket on paper.
While he has been a bit raw during his time at Virginia Tech, Becton definitely has the potential to become a star. The senior tackle must step up and refine his skills in 2012 in order to allow Logan Thomas enough time to open up the passing game.
Bud Foster's defense has very few areas that need improvement.
However, the departure of Eddie Whitley to the NFL and the conversion Antoine Exum to cornerback leave a bit of a hole at safety.
Sophomore Detrick Bonner will replace Exum at free safety and must quickly prove himself.
The 6'0" and 186-pound safety started four games a season ago, but none of them were at safety. His impressive versatility may end up being a concern, as the Hokies need him to settle in and be the man at free safety.
Bonner has incredible physical ability and outstanding athleticism. He must put those traits to work in 2012, as safety is really the only question mark on the Virginia Tech defense.