Enter Scot Loeffler, who was hired at Auburn last season to install the pro-style power running offense. It didn't work and Loeffler was out when Gene Chizik's staff was shown the door after a 3-9 season. So there were a few eyebrows raised when coach Frank Beamer hired Loeffler and veteran offensive line coach Jeff Grimes to fix the offense. Grimes made a bunch of changes on the line as he installed more of a zone blocking scheme. Needless to say it will still be a work in progress when the Hokies return to Blacksburg this summer.
There won't be a lot of time for experimentation come August as Virginia Tech opens with Alabama, the two-time defending national champions, in Atlanta on Aug. 31. "Yep, that one has everybody's attention," said Beamer, whose team was 7-6 in 2012 after eight straight seasons of 10 wins or more. - Tony Barnhart, CBSSports.com
At 6-6 and 260 pounds, he has a big-league arm with the athleticism to make plays with his legs and move the offense up and down the field. Last season in his first year as a starter, Thomas accounted for 30 total touchdowns (19 passing/11 rushing) while leading the Hokies to an 11-win season and trip to the Sugar Bowl. He had just one 300-yard passing game and struggled in some big moments, but he could be just scratching the surface of his potential, which is the largest reason for the intrigue around his pro prospects.
Most high school quarterbacks lament the thought of changing positions, but Thomas was recruited as a tight end/wide receiver and he had no problem with that, he just wanted to play offense. The Lynchburg-native actually preferred to stay at tight end, but the Hokies' coaching staff had other plans, moving him to quarterback soon after he arrived in Blacksburg.
After redshirting in 2009, he was the back-up quarterback behind Tyrod Taylor in 2010 and was also used at receiver in a few packages. Thomas became the starter last season as a redshirt sophomore, finishing with 3,013 passing yards, 469 rushing yards, 19 passing scores, 11 rushing scores, 10 interceptions and a 59.8% completion percentage. He earned Second Team All-ACC honors in his first season as the starter and made believers out of a lot of doubters, including himself.
Now with a year under his belt, it will be interesting to see the development of Thomas and you can bet the NFL is watching, extremely close. Is he a future No. 1 overall pick like Newton? Too early to tell, but the raw talent is too good to dismiss the thought.