David Wilson may only be 5’ 10”, but that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t left some huge shoes to fill at running back for the Hokies.
However, that doesn’t mean that the team lacks for talent at the position. Between redshirt freshman Michael Holmes, true freshman J.C. Coleman, and seniors Martin Scales and Tony Gregory, the team is overflowing with tailback talent.
“I think we’ve got some really talented kids at tailback and we’re trying to fit in who we’re going to work with,” said head coach Frank Beamer. “But we can only work with so many, there are only so many reps in preseason practice.”
Holmes appeared to be the favorite to start after he had an impressive spring practice performance, but, as fall camp opens, nothing seems settled.
“I think we’re probably all even, probably all equal, we just have to keep working hard, and I think the results will show at the end,” Holmes said.
Although this will be the first year that Holmes gets on the field, this is his second training camp, and his familiarity with the team should give him a leg up.
“It’s been a lot easier, stuff has slowed down a whole lot,” Holmes said. “Going against a number one defense in practice and being on the scout team has really helped me get me a feel of what it’s like in game situations.”
Coleman may only be a freshman, but he enrolled with Tech in January, so he’s had a chance to get comfortable with the offense as well.
“(Arriving early) helped me a whole lot in terms of the playbook and my assignments, knowing what to do,” Coleman said. “It was just a huge benefit. Things other guys have to think about, I can just go out there and do it and I don’t have to second guess it.”
The highly touted freshman has already drawn comparisons to NFL star Maurice Jones-Drew for his diminutive stature and speed, but coaches have worked with him so he could bulk up for the fall. He came into camp at 192 pounds, 16 pounds heavier than when he enrolled.
“My goal for the summer was to put on some weight and I did,” Coleman said. “Here we run a power kind of offense and Coach Beamer told me that I had to put on some weight after the spring so I can get inside the tackles and hit up in there.”
Despite this weight increase, no one will ever mistake Coleman for a power back. That’s where Scales, a converted fullback, will come in.
“We had a great spring and put in a lot of new stuff, but (running backs) coach Shane Beamer does a very good job teaching,” Scales said. “They simplify everything and we get enough reps in practice, so we just run with it, so by the time we get to the game, it’s easy.”