Virginia Tech Football: 5 Players We Are Most Excited to Watch in 2013
The Virginia Tech Hokies finished the 2012 season ranked No. 82 nationally in total offense. Their struggles on offense were the primary reason the Hokies had their worst record (7-6) since 1992.
With former offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring now reassigned as the tight ends coach, Hokie fans are excited about the change. First-year coach Scot Loeffler comes to Blacksburg after one disastrous season in charge of Auburn's offense.
Undoubtedly, Virginia Tech fans are eager to see how Loeffler will do. They have high expectations for senior quarterback Logan Thomas and hope he can resemble the 2011 version of himself.
If the Hokies are to contend for another ACC title in 2013, the offense will obviously have to step up. Bud Foster's defense returns nine starters and should be among the nation's best.
Here are five players Hokies fans look most forward to seeing in 2013.
When you sign one of the top players in the country, fans want to see that player on the field as soon as possible. Kendall Fuller is that player for the Hokies.
The Hokies have put several players in the NFL from their defensive backfield. That tradition, in addition to his three older brothers being Hokies, helped persuade Fuller to come to Blacksburg.
Cornerback is one position where the Hokies lack depth. Senior All-ACC performer Antone Exum may not be ready for the season opener, which would allow Fuller an opportunity to line up opposite of his brother, Kyle.
Fans are excited about Fuller and hope he has a big debut on the national stage against Alabama.
Trey Edmunds, a redshirt freshman, is in the mix to be the Hokies' primary ball-carrier in 2013. Edmunds didn't play as a freshman in part because coaches weren't quite sure if he was going to be a running back or linebacker. He excelled at both in high school and is the son of former NFL tight end Ferrell Edmunds.
At 6'1" and 215 pounds, Edmunds has the size to be an every-down running back. However, it is his speed that sets him apart. He ran a 4.37-second 40-yard dash in winter testing. Players with the size, speed and overall athletic ability of Edmunds are rare.
He and speedy J.C. Coleman could prove to be a dynamic combination at running back.
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Joshua Stanford had an excellent spring culminating with a good performance in the spring game. He showed an ability to be a reliable route-runner on shorter routes while also getting down the field.
Earning the trust of a senior quarterback could go a long way for Stanford. Logan Thomas needs to be able to trust his receivers. The lack of trust in last year's group was a big problem for Thomas. In the spring game, he repeatedly had success going to Stanford.
Stanford isn't going to to wow anyone with his size or speed. Instead, he combines good athletic ability with a good understanding of what is expected from his position. The Hokies, outside of senior D.J. Coles, are looking for standouts at the wide receiver position. Stanford appears ready for the challenge.
Senior cornerback Antone Exum found a permanent home last season after playing his first two years at safety. While he struggled early in the season, Exum's confidence rose with each game in 2012. He ended being an All-ACC performer at cornerback for the Hokies.
The bad news for Hokie fans is Exum tore his ACL in January after announcing he'd be returning for his senior season. The timetable for his return should allow him to return for the season opener Aug. 31 against Alabama or shortly thereafter. But, when will he be 100 percent?
Hokie fans will be excited just to see Exum on the field. Big things are expected from him and his defensive teammates in 2013.
Jonathan McLaughlin spent the 2012 season at Fork Union Military Academy and in December changed his college commitment from East Carolina to the Hokies. It was a big move for the Hokies.
McLaughlin, 6'5" and 290 pounds, has an excellent frame and is a good athlete for his size. New offensive line coach Jeff Grimes thought so highly of McLaughlin that he lined him up as the first-team left tackle late in the spring. McLaughlin didn't enroll until January.
There is a lot of uncertainty around the offensive line. Last year's starting tackles have graduated and that group struggled.
If Grimes truly believes McLaughlin is good enough to protect Thomas' blind side as a true freshman, Hokie fans have reason to be excited. McLaughlin's development will be fun to watch as it will be a true test of Grimes and his coaching ability.