USA TODAY Sports
Before the 2012 season, most Hokie football fans realized they'd be seeing the swan song of Logan Thomas' Virginia Tech career. After having the best statistical season for a quarterback in Virginia Tech history in 2011, fans and pundits alike expected he'd improve and ultimately leave for the NFL, being projected as high as the top overall pick by some experts (yes, mostly due to his size). But after an underwhelming start to the season for the Hokies and particularly for Thomas, that ship had sailed and Thomas was guaranteed to be returning for his senior year. Or was he...?
Late in the 2012 season, rumors began to surface via some of those same draft experts that because of the relative weakness of the class, Thomas could still be a mid-late first round draft choice. Soon thereafter, Thomas announced he would be submitting his paperwork with the Draft Advisory Board just to see where he would be drafted, before making his decision on his future.
Enter today: the deadline for early entrants to declare or withdraw their name from the NFL Draft pool, a date which had waned from Hokie fans attention spans during the season, but peaked over the last month and a half, especially in the last week or so as both Antone Exum and James Gayle decided to return for their senior seasons, the Hokies had not hired a new offensive coordinator or staff despite rumors that Frank Beamer had finally caved in to the reality of Bryan Stinespring in Mike O'Cain as inept offensive minds and coordinator/play-callers.
But in the last 48 hours, Tech fans have been taken on a wild ride, with the news that the Hokies had replaced Bryan Stinespring with former Auburn and Temple offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, and that two other staff additions are likely on the way. That, coupled with Logan Thomas' decision announcement set, and then pushed back to today and eventually scheduled for 3:45 on ESPN's College Football Live. A decision that produced mixed results among the Virginia Tech fan base, but generally, made Hokies everywhere strut around the room whooping up a storm at the possibilities of a magical, or at least markedly better 2013.
True, Thomas regressed in 2012, to the point where I would argue it wasn't even regression so much as it was Logan Thomas was a completely different player. The 2011 and 2012 versions of Thomas (or at least after he got his feet wet as a first-time starter early in 2011) were so utterly different that there is no meaningful comparison that could be made. The simple truth is this: One of those players IS Logan Thomas, and one of them isn't. Which one is which is to be determined.
Will Thomas return to his 2011 form, in which he threw for 3,013 yards, 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while rushing for 469 yards and 11 more scores, or will he prove that season to be a fluke, and repeat his 2012 line of 2,976 yards, 18 touchdowns and 16 interceptions with 524 yards on the ground and 10 scores? Time will tell. But for now, the thing Hokie fans have to cling on to is that they have their two-year starter at quarterback coming back, along with the vast majority of their defense that underachieved, but still was among the nation's best statistically. Regardless of what happens on the field this fall, Tech fans will always have this feeling of exuberance that Thomas' decision creates and allows them to dream. A dream that Virginia Tech will return to its rightful place atop the ACC and to contend for that elusive National Championship. All the while an empty glass case sits in the Merryman Center awaiting it's arrival.