2012 OUTLOOK: Despite heavy personnel losses on offense, including the program's single-season rushing leader (David Wilson) and its top two receivers in terms of catches (Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale), the Hokies are still expected to win the ACC's Coastal Division for the sixth time in eight years. They are rolling the dice on another difficult season opener for the fourth time in five years, hosting Georgia Tech on Labor Day night. Tech lost tough opening games in 2008 (East Carolina), 2009 (Alabama) and 2010 (Boise State). The Hokies don't appear to be as good as ACC champ Clemson or Florida State going into the spring, but they have won ACC titles in the past with less talent than they possess right now. How they replace eight starters on offense will be critical.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE
Junior QB Logan Thomas will be a big-time NFL prospect in a year or two, although his numbers this year might not reflect it. A prototype pro signal caller at 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds, Thomas has a big-league arm and surprising straight-line speed, plus the power to carry tacklers for yards at a time, Tim Tebow-style.
What he doesn't have around him is much experience. While the receiving corps of D.J. Coles, Dyrell Roberts and Marcus Davis should carry on nicely in the absence of Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale, the big questions are at tailback and offensive line. Tech must replace David Wilson and his 1,709 yards along with four starters in the line.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE
Last year may have been Bud Foster's best work. The long-time coordinator worked around injury after injury, always fielding a unit which ran, hit and made plays. All those injuries have built amazing depth for this year's stop squad, which returns nine full-time starters and a handful of guys who started between one and four games. The Hokies should generate consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks and can count on CB Kyle Fuller, one of the ACC's breakout performers last year, to lead the secondary. If LBs Bruce Taylor and Tariq Edwards return to full strength in the fall, the defense could compare with the 2005-06 teams which led the nation in total defense.
SCOUTING THE SPECIAL TEAMS
This was a constant source of frustration last season for Tech. Its punters were 108th in net average, the team didn't block a punt all year against FBS competition and its accurate placekicker might not appear in its uniform again after being arrested before Christmas. Coach Frank Beamer, who made his reputation on owning the kicking game, is just hoping to find some level of competence on his roster this spring. This is one situation which figures to spill over into August before answers are identified.
WR Joel Caleb -- A high school quarterback, Caleb wants to be a wide receiver in college. At 6-foot-2 and 201 pounds, he could be similar to Jarrett Boykin, the all-time leading receiver in Hokies history who finished with184 receptions.
RB Trey Edmunds -- The son of former NFL tight end Ferrell Edmunds, he rushed for 2,596yards and 33 touchdowns as a senior. He's also so good on defense that the coaching staff is talking about using him on both sides of the ball to take full advantage of his skills.
DE Ken Ekanem -- Although his stock dropped slightly after an ACL tear in December, Ekanem is a potential game-changer with his ability to get after the quarterback. Should he rehabilitate from his injury quickly enough, he could see the field this year, although the Hokies are deep on the D-line.
--LB Tariq Edwards (tibia) had a rod inserted in his leg on March 20 and will miss spring practice. Head trainer Mike Goforth expects Edwards, who had 71 tackles while starting all 14 games last year, to miss 3-to-4 months and be ready for August drills.
--RB Tony Gregory (knee) will not participate in contact drills during the spring after being injured in the Sugar Bowl. Gregory's injury comes at a really bad time for the senior as he figured to be the No. 1 guy this spring prior to the injury.
--LBs Bruce Taylor and Jeron Gouveia-Winslow (Lisfranc fractures) are in blue jerseys this spring, signifying limited contact. Both were hurt last October and hope to be100 percent in August; they will start as long as they are healthy.
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