The 2010 Virginia Tech football media guide is available for consumption and unlike a lot of other schools, it pulls no punches when talking about players and position battles. The guide offers what I assume is the praise and criticisms of the Tech position coaches and gives you a good idea of what players need to work on and who they would like to see step up during preseason practice.
After the jump are a few things that stood out to me in this year's guide and what I think it means going into this season.
This also serves as your primer for Tech's preseason practice, which starts Aug. 6.
Left Tackle: RSo. Nick Becton; RJr. Andrew Lanier
Left Guard: RJr. Greg Nosal; RFr. David Wang
Center: RSr. Beau Warren; RSo. Michael Via
Right Guard: RJr. Jaymes Brooks; RSo. Vinston Painter
Right Tackle: RJr. Blake DeChristopher; RSo. Michael Via or Fr. Laurence Gibson
- There were several injuries that limited the growth of some of Tech's offensive linemen. Freshman center Andrew Miller was held out of contact drills due to shoulder surgery, sophomore center Michael Via suffered a stretched left ACL that required surgery halfway through spring practice and sophomore guard Vinston Painter dislocated his kneecap during the team's first spring scrimmage.
- The projected starting offensive line represents 36 of 65 offensive line starts from 2009, 55.4 percent.
- Beau Warren is the only senior on the offensive line and is expected to be the leader of the group. He was also one of the most consistent, if not the most consistent players on last year's line.
- According to the guide, Nick Becton is, "from an athletic standpoint [...] what you draw up at tackle ... Has long arms and can move his feet." It also said the coaches think he could be our starting left tackle for the next three years.
- The coaches love freshman tackle Laurence Gibson even though he's only played football for two years. He's called raw and talented and "is going to get better - the question will be how quickly."
- Becton is listed as the spring standout.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
Split End: Jr. Jarrett Boykin; RSo. Xavier Boyce
Flanker: RJr. Danny Coale or Jr. Dyrell Roberts; RSo. Marcus Davis
Tight End: RSr. Andre Smith; RFr. Eric Martin
- We have an embarrassment of riches at flanker with three guys who should see the field this year. Danny Coale is the starter because his blocking ability right now is better than Dyrell Roberts and Marcus Davis. Fortunately for us, Coale's route running and hands are good enough that having him on the field doesn't tip our hand to opponents.
- Davis has the nuances of receiver down after switching from quarterback prior to the 2009 season. He "figures to be an important part of the Tech offense this fall" and is a down-field threat, just like Roberts. Davis is listed as the spring standout.
- Xavier Boyce lost his starting job after the third game of the season, but "took a different approach during the spring and became a much more consistent player."
- I think Andre Smith could be the most complete tight end we've had at Tech since Jeff King. He "was a big asset to the Hokies' running back last season with his blocking" and also proved he can catch the ball with a touchdown against Tennessee.
- Eric Martin's run blocking is good enough that the coaches will have him on the field in two tight end sets. Meanwhile, both Randall Dunn and Prince Parker need to improve their run blocking according to the guide.
Quarterback: Sr. Tyrod Taylor; RSo. Ju-Ju Clayton or RFr. Logan Thomas
Tailback: RSo. Ryan Williams or RJr. Darren Evans
Fullback: RSr. Kenny Younger or RJr. Josh Oglesby
- Sophomore tailback David Wilson's redshirt year is mentioned: "Has a redshirt year available if he doesn't win the job or figure in the top two this fall." I think this mean's he'll redshirt, but hey, what's the title of this post again?
- There are only four seniors on the two-deep on offense and one of them is fullback Kenny Younger who "rates as an excellent blocker who can catch the football out of the backfield." He's more experience at the position right now that Josh Oglesby, who moved there in the spring.
- Oglesby "will give the team addition options in the running and passing game" and "will helpthe Hokies keep opponents guessing at his new position." Hopefully this means Stinespring has some different things drawn up for him and possibly Logan Thomas.
- Thomas is listed as the spring standout and will see the field in some form in 2010. He "could very well be used in some capacity as a tight end or H-back at some point during the season, regardless of whether he wins the backup QB job." Translation: The kid's too talented to stand on the sidelines.
Defensive End: RSo. Steven Friday; RFr. J.R. Collins
Defensive Tackle: RSr. John Graves; RSo. Dwight Tucker or RSo. Joe Jones
Defensive Tackle: RJr. Kwamaine Battle; RSo. Antoine Hopkins or RSo. Isaiah Hamlette
Defensive End: RJr. Chris Drager; RFr. James Gayle
- The Hokies are looking for someone who can put pressure on the quarterback and it might be Steven Friday, who is listed as the spring standout. He "emerged as a playmaker during the spring" and "made plays in every scrimmage."
- There's a lot of youth on the defensive end depth chart and a lot of guys who have different things they need to work on if they want to see the field. J.R. Collins needs to become more consistent and adjust to the weight Mike Gentry put on him in offseason. James Gayle "needs to improve his concentration," but will get plenty of work in the fall. Duan Perez-Means earned more and more reps as time went on, but is still behind due to shoulder surgery last summer.
- At tackle, Isaiah Hamlette has come on strong after moving there from end during the spring. He's called a player to keep an eye on. Antoine Hopkins has slipped down the depth chart after not playing "with the consistency and speed that the coaches were hoping for."
Whip: RSo. Jeron Gouveia-Winslow; RSo. Alonzo Tweedy
Mike: RJr. Barquell Rivers or RSo. Bruce Taylor
Backer: RSo. Lyndell Gibson; Fr. Chase Williams
- Bruce Taylor is listed as the spring standout and that's good news because Barquell Rivers may not be ready for the Boise State game due to a torn quad he suffered in early March. Taylor "shows athletic ability in space and can rush the passer." He could also play backer if need be.
- The light appears to have come on for Quillie Odom, who moved to mike from backer in the spring. He was a guy Foster and the defensive coaches were disappointed with at this time last season. He "took a big step in positioning himself for some playing time."
- If that's the case, then here's a though. Once Rivers is healthy (which may not be until halfway through the year), it would even out our depth if Taylor moved to backer to back-up Lyndell Gibson. For now, though, we need Taylor at mike and need him to be good.
- The whip linebacker offers a guy who knows the position inside and out in Jeron Gouveia-Winslow and a guy who is better athletically in Alonzo Tweedy who "still needs to learn the adjustments and get a little better feel for the position." My guess is we'll eventually see Tweedy at whip, possibly right before our gauntlet against GT, UNC and Miami.
Field Corner: So. Jayron Hosley or RJr. Cris Hill
Free Safety: Jr. Eddie Whitley; RFr. Antone Exum
Rover: Sr. Davon Morgan; RFr. James Hopper
Boundary Corner: RSr. Rashad Carmichael; RJr. Cris Hill
- Other than the backfield, this is the group I'm most excited about.
- Our most versatile player in the secondary, Eddie Whitley, is also listed as the spring standout. Whitley is the starter at free, but can also play rover and either cornerback spot. His knowledge of those positions makes him perfect for quarterbacking the defense at free.
- Right behind Whitley at free is freakish athlete Antone Exum. I think Exum will eventually be the starter, but according the guide he "needs to be more consistent in making the calls and checks." The coaches are high on him and "think he could be a special player."
- The battle for the field corner spot will be tight. Jayron Hosley is "a playmaker on the ball and a very good tackler" while Cris Hill "can play either corner position without a lot of mental errors" and is "a speedy player who can tackle." I think both will see the field, especially if Hosley ever needs a rest due to his return duties.
Kicker: RSr. Chris Hazley; Jr. Justin Myer or RFr. Cody Journell or RJr. Tyler Weiss
Punter: RSr. Brian Saunders; RSo. Scott Demler
Snapper: RSo. Collin Carroll; RFr. Ethan Dickerson
Holder: RSr. Brian Saunders; RSr. Jeff Beyer
Kickoffs: Jr. Justin Myer; RFr. Cody Journell
- Year after year it becomes more apparent that what Frank Beamer values in a place kicker is height on the ball and consistency. That's why Chris Hazley will probably be your kicker this year. That sets up for the Hokies to have their sixth kicker in six years next season after Hazley graduates.
- Back-up holder and quarterback Jeff Beyer has graduated and will start grad school this fall as a biomedical engineering major.