Thirty freshmen traveled with the Virginia Tech football team to Atlanta for its season opener against Alabama last weekend, by far the most in recent memory.
Over half of those that dressed saw action, including nine true freshmen – the most Tech’s put on the field in a game since 2002.
Redshirt freshman Trey Edmunds stole the show offensively for the Hokies on Saturday, rushing for 132 yards on 20 carries, including a 77-yard run that accounted for Tech’s only touchdown of the night.
“I think Trey is going to be a terrific back,” said Frank Beamer, head coach. “He showed speed. He's a powerful guy. Each and every week I think he'll get better and better.”
Edmunds was the first Tech running back to rush for more than 100 yards in his debut since Shyrone Stith in 1996.
“All I did was run behind my offensive line,” Edmunds said. “My offensive line made it easy for me tonight. I feel that we’re going to do some good things in the future.”
The Danville, Va. native looked like an experienced back throughout the game, running north-to-south, keeping his pad level low and exploding through the holes his offensive line opened up for him.
“We’ve been trying to tell everybody that Trey’s going to be a tough back to stop,” said quarterback Logan Thomas.
Edmunds’ physicality as a runner and his speed in the open field — as well as the fact that Tech won’t face a defense nearly as stingy as Alabama’s for the rest of the season — gives the Hokies hope of competing in the ACC’s Coastal Division.
“You've heard me talk about Trey a bunch of times,” Beamer said. “The kid's got a lot of ability, made out of the right stuff, a great family. I mean, he's going to have a terrific future at Virginia Tech.”
Cornerbacks Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson — as well as offensive tackle Jonathan McLaughlin — were among the true freshman that had an immediate impact on the field against the Crimson Tide.
“I think (Fuller and Facyson) will get better and better and make us better on the back end. I was really encouraged by that,” Beamer said. “Kendall, he's a big‑time player and he likes the challenge of it all. I think he's got a bright future, too.”
The youngest Fuller brother finished with four tackles in his debut, playing out of both the nickelback and field corner positions. He and Facyson helped the rest of the secondary shut down explosive Alabama wide receivers Amari Cooper and Kenny Bell for most of the night.