You can practically hear the angels singing.
Why? Tech football, or at least some semblance of it, starts up again on Tuesday when the Hokies open their summer practice.
Watching Logan Thomas and company don pads once more will certainly make the wait for Labor Day seem considerably more bearable, but that’s not to say that summer practice will be all fun and games.
Instead, there are a handful of burning questions that need to be resolved after the team last stepped on the field for spring practice, and every Hokie fan should be watching closely to see how they’re addressed.
It might not seem exciting, but one of the more important question marks is the offensive line. When the team broke practice this spring, there seemed to be a basic consensus involving who would start where, but the unit still didn’t see a lot of time together.
Andrew Miller will surely anchor the unit at center as the group’s lone returning starter, but the game experience of Nick Becton, David Wang and Vinston Painter will also surely help things run more smoothly. The trio is slated to start at left tackle, left guard, and right tackle respectively.
The one true newcomer, transfer Brent Benedict, earned a lot of hype in the spring for being a former SEC prospect and is slated to start at right guard, but saw limited time on the field. This summer, Benedict and the rest of the group are likely to get a lot more time together, and they’ll finally be facing up against a defense that is starting to get healthy for the first time in months.
The health of the defense is another interesting facet that should be on display next week.
Bruce Taylor and Tariq Edwards form the heart of the team’s linebacking corps, yet they’re also both coming back from major foot injuries and figure to return to action this summer.
Edwards may be on the shelf until mid-August, according to head trainer Mike Goforth, so we might not get to see much of him until later, but Taylor is slated to start camp immediately.
The redshirt senior was named to the Nagurski Award watch list, meaning the media considers him a contender to be the best defensive player in college football, which certainly makes the stakes pretty high. He was off to a great start last season before his injury, leading the team in tackles before he went down, so his effectiveness this year should be a major factor in the quality of the defense.
Jeron Gourveia-Winslow is also coming off Lisfranc surgery, but his comeback is less crucial given the changes at whip linebacker, which is coincidentally another controversial subject to watch.
At the recent ACC media days, Kyle Fuller confirmed that he’d be starting at whip for the opener against Georgia Tech. He’s played the position before rather effectively, so it’s a logical move, but it still sends ripples throughout the rest of the defense.
Fuller was slated to start at cornerback, and considering that converted safety Antone Exum was penciled in for the other spot, the position is now a little jumbled. Freshman Donaldven Manning could be pressed into service right away, or Detrick Bonner could be moved back to corner after spending the spring at safety.