By Paxton Delany
Virginia Tech made it all the way to the ACC Championship game against Clemson and wanted to take its revenge against the Tigers for an earlier season loss 23-3. The Hokes lost the championship title 38-10, however, and then fell to Michigan in the Sugar Bowl 23-20 in OT. Still VT went 11-3 overall and 7-1 in the ACC. The media has predicted Tech as the favorite to win the ACC Coastal Division again. Coach Frank Beamer enters his 25th year at Virginia Tech with those expectations in tow.
Virginia Tech loses its All-ACC Player of the Year running back David Wilson, who was drafted to the New York Giants. Hokie teammate Jayron Hosley was drafted to the Giants as well and wide receiver Danny Coale went to the Dallas Cowboys. Altogether the team lost eight of its starting players, including four from the offensive line. VT still has junior quarterback Logan Thomas to celebrate, though. Marcus Davis will be returning to the receiving corps; All-ACC end James Gayle, J.R. Collins, brothers Derrick and Antoine Hopkins, and Kyle Fuller are all back as well.
Virginia Tech brought in 30 commitments for its 2012 recruiting class. Joel Caleb is one of the most-anticipated players in that group. Three players enrolled in January: running back J.C. Coleman, defensive back Donaldven Manning, and defensive end Dewayne Alford. Another standout freshmen, Dakota Jackson, was selected for the USA U-19 football team.
Some of those freshmen may need to contribute immediately. When running back coach Shane Beamer was asked if he thought it was possible that 90 percent of the Hokies’ 2012 rushing yards would come from freshmen, “It might be higher than that,” was his response. For the first spring scrimmage the defense appeared to take control of the action with 2 interceptions and 11 sacks. Alonzo Tweedy had 5 tackles, while teammate Derek DiNardo took 3. Logan Thomas completed 3 of 12 passes for 56 yards. Cornerback Kyle Fuller turned an interception into a touchdown for the play of the game.
In another scrimmage game at Lane Stadium, Thomas highlighted the outing with 4 touchdowns passes. Kris Harley made 4 tackles and 2 sacks to lead the defense. “Overall, I thought our scrimmage was good,” coach Frank Beamer said. “I think we’re going to be able to go back and look at this and make a determination on some guys who are ready to play in the GT game [the season opener] and some guys who aren’t ready to play. And then we’ll look at some freshmen and see if they can help.” Thomas completed 9 of 23 passes for 91 yards, but had several passes dropped. Tailback Michael Holes led with 89 yards on 8 carries. Defensively, Detrick Bonner posted 6 tackles and forced an interception, while Antone Exum had an interception and a touchdown when Fuller blocked a punt and Exum picked up the ball for a 60-yard touchdown. Return.
The official spring game was cancelled due to thunderstorms. Still, Beamer said, “I think we’ve had a good spring practice, and I think we’ve seen good improvement.” Spring awards included the following: Michael Holmes and Ronny Vandyke (top newcomers), Logan Thomas and Luther Maddy (MVP spring training), and David Wang and Alonzo Tweedy (coaches’ awards).
Virginia Tech opens up its season against Georgia Tech on Sept. 3. Other games include Pitt (Sept. 15), Cincinnati (Sept. 29), UNC (Oct. 6), Clemson (Oct. 20), Miami (Nov. 1), Florida State (Nov. 8), and UVa (Nov. 24).