2011 didn’t finish as planned.
The Hokies, after finishing 11-1 in the regular season, went into the ACC Championship game ranked No. 5 in the country and considered a favorite to win their fifth conference title. Instead, they were embarrassed 38-10 by Clemson and left many fans disgusted at the sight they saw in Charlotte, North Carolina.
A quick pick-me-up was distributed the following day, however, when the Hokies were selected to compete in the Nokia Sugar Bowl vs. the Michigan Wolverines. With a rebuilt hope to get a marquee win, the Hokies went to New Orleans and put on a stout performance. But after some improbable plays by the Wolverines and a late controversial ruling, the Hokies fell 23-20 in overtime.
Then the offseason came. The team lost one of the most successful classes in Virginia Tech history to graduation in the likes of seniors Jarrett Boykin, Danny Coale, Blake DeChristopher, and Eddie Whitley. Juniors Jayron Hosley and David Wilson also came out and announced they would be leaving the school early for the NFL Draft.
Oh, but the sorrows wouldn’t last. National Signing Day brought in one of the best Rivals ranked classes that the program has ever seen. Shane Beamer had an immediate impact on the recruiting trail and the team finished with the No. 21 ranked recruiting class in the country.
Now, after the dust has settled and the look ahead to 2012 begins, there is actually quite a bit to look forward to from this Hokies football team. The one thing that I’m most excited about? Well, Logan Thomas of course.
Logan Thomas’ growth from the 2011 season will be something almost every Hokie fan will look forward to seeing. In his first year as the starter, Thomas was everything and more that the team could have asked him to be.
The 6-foot-6, 254-pound quarterback went through some early growing pains but showed tremendous improvement over the final half of the season. He finished the season with over 3,000 yards passing and 19 passing touchdowns. He also ran for another 469 yards on the ground and 11 touchdowns.
The guy has the physical tools to be a magnificent quarterback not only at the college level but also in the NFL, where he has drawn comparisons to players such as current Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman. He has the size and arm to be a real star.
Thomas has even been named by NFL Draft guru Todd McShay as potential sleeper for the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Yes, the No. 1 pick. However, a lot of work will need to be done before Thomas can be considered in such an elite category.
His foot work must improve. The guy is a former tight end. Foot work is one of the most key features of a quarterback and it is something Thomas will need to continue to work on especially as he moves out of the pocket and looking downfield.
His decision making still needs some work. Now, some of this can be blamed on offensive play calling but it does come down on Thomas. At times in 2011, the quarterback took some unnecessary shots down field that resulted in turnovers.
I’m sure both the Virginia Tech coaching staff and NFL scouts will want Thomas to keep the hits on himself to a minimum. Thomas used his big frame as a source of pounding defenders quite often in 2011 and will need to be a little safer now that he doesn’t have No. 4 at running back anymore.
The Hokies offense will more than likely look a bit different this year. I’d expect much more passing than previous seasons as David Wilson is gone and there isn’t much experience in the back field at the moment.
The team will have seniors Dyrell Roberts, Marcus Davis, and D.J Coles all at wide receiver as well as some young talent in Joel Caleb, Demetri Knowles, and Kevin Asante. This should result in a much more pass heavy offense.
Thomas will have the chance to put the ball in the air and put up big numbers in 2012. The offense will likely stay with the spread look a lot more often as it did in 2011 and the coaching staff is likely to put the ball in the air often.
The physical specimen of a quarterback is without a doubt the Hokies best player for 2012. He entered 2011 with reasonable expectations but the bar has risen for 2012. He is expected to be the star.
Coale, Boykin, Whitley, Hosley, Wilson, DeChristopher. All those guys are gone.
However, with No. 3 still in maroon and orange, the Hokies will be just fine in 2012.