Earlier I looked at five known commodities the Hokies can't afford to lose this season. Here, I list five players that I think could be poised to have break-out seasons. These are guys who aren't currently starters, but could be by the end of August practice or make a big contribution to the team this year.
1. Marcus Davis, WR
Last year was Davis' first full-season as a wide receiver and he is just now coming into his own at the position. He is currently listed as the No. 3 flanker behind Danny Coale and Dyrell Roberts, but could force his way into playing time because he can make big plays and stretch the field. In the media guide, the coaches said he "figures to be an important part of the offense this fall."
2. Antone Exum, FS
If the free safety could get by on athleticism alone in Bud Foster's defense, Exum would be the starter over Eddie Whitley. But because Foster's free safeties are the quarterback of the defense, Exum will probably start the season on the bench. Whitley could probably play all four defensive back positions so if something happens and he's needed elsewhere, Exum could be your stater at free. However, he needs to be more comfortable with his reads and as the leader of the defense to be a full-time starter.
3. Michael Via, C/OT
According to the media guide, the coaches "do not want him to be a full-time back-up." He can play both center and tackle and may have competed for a starting spot if he hadn't stretched his ACL in the spring. He may not be back to full speed until after the first month of the season, but I think he's good enough to have an impact as the year goes on. He started three games at center when Beau Warren was out with an injury.
4. Alonzo Tweedy, LB
Tweedy's another guy who would be a starter if he had the mental part of the game down. As it stands, he's the No. 2 whip behind Jeron Gouveia-Winslow. He's faster than JGW and when fall practice starts will have one month to prove to Jim Cavanaugh that he's ready for prime time. I predict he'll be the starter at whip by the end of the season.
5. Zack McCray, DE
He's only a true freshman, but could be needed in the defensive end rotation for the Hokies. Only the starters, Chris Drager and Steven Friday, have played in a college football game now that Isaiah Hamlette has been moved to defensive tackle. James Gayle and J.R. Collins have struggled with consistency and Duan Perez-Means probably won't be ready physically for this season because of a shoulder injury. The door is open for McCray to contribute immediately.