Coach Frank Beamer enters season No. 26 in Blacksburg, and he has led his alma mater to eight consecutive 10-win seasons. Here is a look at Virginia Tech as it gets set to begin preseason practice:
It all starts: Virginia Tech begins preseason practice on Tuesday, Aug. 7. Fans can see the Hokies in two open scrimmages. The first is Saturday, Aug. 18 and the second is Wednesday, Aug. 22.
Three questions to answer in camp:
- How will the offensive line look having to replace four starters? While Virginia Tech has to replace four starters, it has players with some experience. Left tackle Nick Becton split time with Andrew Lanier last year, and left guard David Wang received playing time before breaking his foot. The questions come on the right side of the line with Georgia transfer guard Brent Benedict and tackle Vinston Painter. Both lack game experience. Versatile lineman Michael Via is coming off ACL surgery, but he has started games at center and guard and has worked at tackle in his career.
- How will the Hokies split up the running back carries? Redshirt freshman Michael Holmes is the leading candidate to replace David Wilson. Holmes isn't flashy, but he will make a cut and get up field. True freshman J.C. Coleman went through spring practice, and he has good speed. Senior Martin Scales could carve out a role in short yardage situations. True freshmen Trey Edmunds and Chris Mangus will also get a shot at the start of camp. Many thought Edmunds would be a linebacker in college, but Beamer believes he can make an early impact on offense.
- Will defensive coordinator Bud Foster find a reliable whip linebacker? The Hokies have not had consistency at the position since Cody Grimm used up his eligibility in 2009. Seniors Jeron Gouveia-Winslow and Alonzo Tweedy are the favorites to win the job. Gouveia-Winslow has started 12 games in his career but is coming off a foot injury that caused him to miss the team's last eight games. Tweedy is athletic and had a good spring. Redshirt freshman Ronny Vandyke will make this a three-man competition. At 6-3, 215 pounds, he has all the physical tools for the position, but he needs to gain experience.
Player who needs to step up: Wide receiver Marcus Davis (6-4, 228 pounds) has to be the go-to receiver for quarterback Logan Thomas now that Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale are no longer in Blacksburg. Davis had 30 catches for 510 yards and five touchdowns last year. The Hokies need for his play to match his talent this year, and with Coale and Boykin gone, Davis will get plenty of opportunities.
Potential breakout player: Defensive tackle Luther Maddy was named the most valuable defensive player of spring practice. Maddy, a true sophomore from Delray Beach, Fla., had 19 tackles last year, but coaches expect him to make a big leap in 2012.
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