Posted by Chip Patterson
There have been several reasons to keep your eye on spring practice in Blacksburg. The defending ACC Champions have been adjusting to live without Player of the Year Tyrod Taylor, with touted signal-caller Logan Thomas getting adjusted to the new position. You have the storyline of the explosive David Wilson assuming a running back position that was shared for most of the 2010 season. You have a defense that will be looking to reload and bounce back from a season that was uncharacteristic at times for the Bud Foster era.
But what about the search for a starting punter?
The open compeition on the special teams unit includes Scott Demler, Ethan Keyserling, Grant Bowden, Connor Goulding, and starting wide receiver Danny Coale.
Coale broke out last season for the Hokies, finishing second on the team in receptions and receiving yards. But with the position open, Coale has expressed serious interest in getting back into the kicking game.
"I was just kind of thinking to myself there wasn't a set punter," Coale said. "There has been (a set punter in the spring for Tech) in the past. I've punted in the past and I really enjoy it. Punting is something I love. I've done it since I was little. My dad taught me how to do it, so once I kind of realized there's an opportunity, I wanted to try it and give it a shot. It's been a lot of fun. Hopefully, I'll be able to do it at some point. I don't know."
For three seasons at Episcopal High School, Coale took care of both the kicking and punting as well as being the primary return man for both. Coale may not be the primary man for the job, but he has just as much college punting experience as the rest of the compeittion (none). He has always fooled around punting before practices, but this spring is the first time he has taken the opportunity seriously.
"Everybody asks if I'm serious, and I am," said Coale explained recently. "I'm completely serious. I don't know if I need to get a punting shoe or what I need to do to let everybody know I'm serious. Maybe the one-bar (helmet cage design) across the front."
I don't think that adding Coale to that aspect of special teams will have any "Beamer Ball" mystique, though it doesn't hurt to have that talent stuffed away on your roster. Coale may be serious, but he is obviously utilizing this opportunity to have a bit of fun as well. As a senior, Coale will need to be one of the leaders of a young offense - as well as a big play threat for Logan Thomas. Last season Coale stepped up down the stretch for the Hokies, pulling in a 40+ yard reception in 4 of the final 5 games. When things get tough for the first-time starter, he will need Coale to get out of tough spots.
If he can't, then Coale might have to stay on the field to punt. Not exactly the "win-win" Frank Beamer is looking for if you ask me.