The last time Virginia Tech played Alabama, a star was born.
In 2009, freshman running back Ryan Williams came out of nowhere for over 100 total yards and two touchdowns, opening a fantastic season that would send him into Heisman consideration.
Williams has since gone to the NFL, but fast-forward to 2013: the Hokies will again be looking to some inexperienced running backs for a boost.
Trey Edmunds has drawn comparisons to David Wilson, as they’re both from Danville, have won titles running track and have blazing top end speed. Edmunds redshirted in 2012 and says that it has helped him significantly.
“I think it was the best thing I could have done,” Edmunds said. “It allowed me to sit back and learn, sit back and watch.”
Edmunds could be the Hokies’ starting running back after Michael Holmes’ dismissal from the team this summer and J.C. Coleman’s sprained ankles have left his immediate future in question.
Even though he’s suspended for the Alabama opener, Joel Caleb will be a name to know in 2013. Caleb played quarterback in high school, was recruited as an athlete and looked to be a receiver through the spring before being announced as a tailback this summer. At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Caleb is strong yet elusive, and head coach Frank Beamer and running backs coach Shane Beamer will try to get the ball in his hands in a variety of ways.
There was a bit of a shakeup late in camp when true freshman Wyatt Teller switched from defensive end to offensive tackle following injuries along the offensive line. Teller has been a fan favorite and camp standout, but obviously will have to learn the ropes.
His arm length and height are comparable to Houston Texans stud end J.J. Watt. Should Teller be able to put it together, the Hokies may have found themselves some unexpected depth on the offensive line.
Two true freshmen in the secondary round out the list of impact newcomers.
Brandon Facyson will most likely fill Antone Exum’s spot at corner in the season opener against Alabama. Like Exum, Facyson is taller and lengthier than most corners, and defensive coordinator Bud Foster has spent the summer praising how quickly he’s mentally adjusted to play at the college level.
And lastly, few Hokies will have more eyes on them than the youngest Fuller brother, Kendall. The blue-chip recruit was ranked as the No. 2 corner in the nation, and the ninth-best overall recruit coming out of high school.
There’s really not much to be said about Fuller other than he looks to be the complete package: quick, instinctive and comes from a bloodline of brothers who have been fantastic for the Hokies.
Foster and secondary coach Torrian Gray have made habits of developing young defensive backs into playmakers early in their career, and Foster sounds excited about Facyson and Fuller.
“Those two guys are going to continue to grow,” Foster said. “They’re true freshman, but at the same time they both have a lot of abilities.”