Virginia Tech Football: 4 Hokies Primed for Breakout Seasons
The Virginia Tech Hokies enter fall camp with big expectations for the 2015 season. Tech returns 16 starters, and the Hokies are primed to return to the ACC Championship Game for the first time since 2011.
While VT has several starters back, there will be opportunities for some younger players to crack the two-deep and make an impact this fall.
Head coach Frank Beamer isn't only expecting big things from younger players, though. The dismissal of projected starter C.J. Reavis at rover opens the door for a host of talented returnees as well as newcomers.
Whom are you expecting big things from in 2015?
Here are four Hokies primed for breakout campaigns in 2015.
Yes, Cam Phillips played in all 13 games last season—starting nine—and caught 40 passes for 498 yards and three touchdowns.
So why is he on this list?
Last season was all about Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges. This fall, Phillips will become known to all of the ACC.
At 6'1", 191 pounds, Phillips is built similarly to Ford. However, Phillips plays much bigger than his listed size. He's a terrific athlete and strong route-runner, too. He didn't burst onto the scene as quickly as Ford or Hodges did last fall, but he was almost as productive.
With a full offseason in VT's strength and conditioning program, expect Phillips to be even more comfortable in 2015. Another year working with quarterback Michael Brewer doesn't hurt, either.
Sophomore linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka got his feet wet last season, starting three games in the place of injured starter Chase Williams.
While Motuapuaka struggled at times, he more than held his own, too. He had four straight games with at least 10 tackles and also recorded two sacks in a loss at Wake Forest.
Defensive coordinator Bud Foster relies heavily on his middle linebacker, and Motuapuaka's experience last season will help him this fall. He looked more comfortable in coverage in the spring, so expect the opposition to test him in that department this fall.
Motuapuaka will rise to the challenge and become Tech's next All-ACC linebacker.
Eric Gallo played in three games—logging 14 snaps—as a true freshman in 2014. Now he's Virginia Tech's unquestioned starter at center in 2015.
Before you say Gallo has no other competition at the position, you better talk to his teammates and coaches, who are very impressed with him, per Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
"Gallo’s been awesome,” left tackle Jonathan McLaughlin said. “How smart he is is something. That center position has to be the smartest guy on the line and I feel like Gallo has definitely taken on that challenge.”
That's high praise for the true sophomore.
In the spring, Gallo was named Tech's top newcomer. At 6'2", 298 pounds, Gallo possesses above-average size, outstanding strength and impressive athleticism for someone with his frame.
When it's all said and done, Gallo will be the Hokies' best center since Jake Grove was in Blacksburg.
Yes, Brewer is a senior and started every game in 2014. How could he be poised for a breakout season?
Easily. Brewer took his lumps last season, experiencing some highs—including leading the Hokies to an upset over Ohio State—and some lows. The loss to Wake Forest was one of the worst in recent school history. Now, he's had a full offseason with offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler and grown with Ford, Hodges and Phillips.
He was terrific in the spring, too. In all of Tech's scrimmages and the official spring game, Brewer did not throw one interception. He struggled with turnovers last fall.
Hokie fans should expect to see more of the Brewer from spring practice in 2015.
He is one of eight offensive starters returning and is much more comfortable with the offense. Brewer was terrific against the Buckeyes last fall, taking hit after hit and continuing to get up and make several big completions.
The Hokies will compete for the ACC title in 2015, and Brewer will be a big reason why.