In August, the leaves on the trees surrounding Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Virginia, are still green. In the following weeks as football season approaches, even the leaves will show their allegiance by turning burnt orange and Chicago maroon: the colors of the Hokies.
By now, the hype surrounding the upcoming season has become an audible buzz. There’s the opening game against Boise State on September 6. There’s the argument that the Hokies have the best backfield in the nation between Ryan Williams and Darren Evans. Lingering questions remain about the status and quality of the defense which has to replace seven starters. Can Tech take the next step as a program and compete for a national championship?
For the casual fan, those are need-to-know talking points. But in order to impress friends and satisfy that internal hunger to be a better football fan, it’s vital to know who the next generation of Hokies will be who will get their shot this season. If Tech is going to accomplish their goals, this year’s new contributors must make their own name, rather than be satisfied to become the next Jason Worlids or the next Kam Chancellor.
QB/TE Logan Thomas: Listed at 6’6” and 242 pounds, Thomas was ranked the No. 1 TE prospect by Rivals in 2009. He’s a one of a kind athlete who can run, leap, catch and pass with the best of them. This season, he will likely see the field in a limited capacity as a receiver in the red zone. What makes him an special player is that he is the heir apparent at quarterback when Tyrod Taylor leaves the program. Don’t be fooled by his height and weight, Thomas will continue the trend of mobile quarterbacks at Virginia Tech if he sticks at the position.
Which breakout player will have the biggest season?
WR Marcus Davis: Upon his arrival with the 2008 class, Davis got a look at quarterback but was ultimately moved to receiver. Unfortunately, due to the depth at the position, he’s rarely seen the field. But this spring he was named the most improved offensive player. While he’s still fighting for a prominent role in the offense, his measurables are off the charts. If the Hokies offense is going to be as dynamic as advertised by the media, Davis is going to be a part of that success.
OT Nick Becton: For the first time in a long time, the Hokies have an offensive tackle who will make his starting debut at left tackle. For years, Tech has plugged in new tackles at right tackle while moving the incumbent over to the left tackle spot. While he is currently battling a moderate case of turf toe which may limit his action in the season opener, Becton is a very promising redshirt sophomore with long arms, great feet and great kick to get outside. He has the potential to be the starter at left tackle for the next three seasons.
CB Jayron Hosley: Call him Jay. The Last year in limited action, Hosley showed flashes of brilliance. He played in every game and was the first freshman to return a punt for a touchdown during head coach Frank Beamer’s tenure. Hosley is a lock to continue the tradition of great cornerbacks at Virginia Tech. He even comes from the same high school as former Tech great CB Brandon Flowers. What separates him is his quickness and reaction time. Expect him to show incredible burst and maybe pick off a pass or two for a pick-six this year.
FS Eddie Whitley: Replacing former free safety Kam Chancellor is no easy task but rest assured, Whitley’s ready for it. Expect to see No. 15 flying around the field and making plays. As the vocal leader of the defense, Whitley plays with a swagger and confidence reminiscent of former Tech great Jimmy Williams who also had the athletic ability to play cornerback and safety. There are certain players who have that “want-to,” that next level of hustle, Whitley’s got that in spades. Although this will be his first year as a starter, expect big things as he has already played nearly 400 snaps in his career.
LB Bruce Taylor: For those who follow Virginia Tech recruiting, it has been a long wait to see Taylor finally hit the field. Due to an injury to starting middle linebacker Barquell Rivers, Taylor is getting his shot now and has made the most of it. He can play both inside and outside linebacker. Ranked among the “Rivals 250” coming out of high school, Taylor committed very early in the process to Virginia Tech. When asked about he and his teammates on defense having something to prove this year, this is what he had to say: "They don't know who we are, they don't think we're any good, and that's how we like it, being the underdog.''
For those who are still concerned about the Hokies’ fortune this season, feel free to talk to Taylor more in depth about him being the underdog. He’s sure to have some choice words and maybe he’ll show off his tackling techniques.