If there’s one thing Virginia Tech football is known for, it is consistency.
The Hokies have won 10 or more games in seven straight seasons, winning Atlantic Coast Conference titles in four of them. From 2006-10, the coaching staff remained completely intact. Of the Hokies’ nine assistant coaches last season, five had been with the program for at least 15 years.
For the better part of the past four seasons, Tyrod Taylor left a legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks in program history.
When the Hokies take the practice field tonight for their first spring practice of 2011, they will have a much different look than the team last seen being demolished by Stanford in the Discover Orange Bowl.
Longtime assistant Billy Hite and offensive line coach Jim Cavanaugh have been moved to administrative positions, making room for Shane Beamer and Cornell Brown on the staff. Both Beamer and Brown are former Hokie players in their 30s, signaling a movement toward a younger core of assistants.
Believe it or not, Taylor — the all-time passing leader in school history — is gone. It is now up to redshirt sophomore Logan Thomas to replace him.
What the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Thomas lacks in pure passing ability, he makes up for in natural athletic ability. Thomas also has innate qualities as a leader that have head coach Frank Beamer excited about his potential as the starting quarterback.
“There’s not any question that Logan has demonstrated ability,” Beamer said. “His leadership, the type of person he is, he’s perfect for the position. He has a lot of the same qualities that Tyrod had.”
Also, offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring was relieved of play-calling duties in favor of quarterbacks coach Mike O’Cain. According to Beamer, the move was made, in large part, because of O’Cain’s closer relationship with Thomas.
Thomas can rely on a pair of experienced receiving targets as he gets used to the role.
Seniors Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale enter their fourth year as starters. Both are sure-handed pass-catchers that have a knack for bailing out slightly errant throws with spectacular grabs.
Up-and-comer Marcus Davis is also poised for a breakout year at receiver after showing flashes of brilliance late in 2010. His best game came at North Carolina, when he caught four passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns.
“He certainly has made some great plays for us,” Beamer said. “I think he’s got a great future.”
Not many programs can boast about losing two underclassmen running backs to the NFL Draft. Even fewer can plug in another potential star the next season. That’s what the Hokies will do with David Wilson, who steps in for the departed Ryan Williams and Darren Evans.
Wilson rushed for 619 yards last season and five touchdowns despite being fourth on the team in carries per game. He spent the winter helping the Hokies indoor track and field team win the ACC championship.
Throughout spring practice, he’ll pull double duty between the two sports.