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Last year's Hokies struggled to a 7-6 record, the worst in 20 years, and led to an overhaul of the offensive coaching staff.
The Roanoke Times | File 2012
Cornerback Kyle Fuller was one of two Hokies to earn effort recognition at all five of last week’s 6 a.m. workouts.
The Roanoke Times | File 2011
Quarterback Logan Thomas is one of many keys for Virginia Tech this season. Kyle Green | The Roanoke Times 7/26/2011 Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas.
DAVE KNACHEL | Virginia Tech
Coach Frank Beamer said he thinks linebacker Tariq Edwards’ injured knee is healthy. Edwards missed the 2012 season.
Monday, March 25, 2013
BLACKSBURG - Instead of spreading out the team's 6 a.m. workouts this offseason, Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer lined them up in a row for the first time.
The Hokies did five straight days of conditioning drills in the wee hours of the morning. It would have been six, but they had to cancel Monday because of weather.
"I told the kids the other day, I want this to be the toughest football team we've ever had here at Virginia Tech," Beamer said on a pre-spring teleconference. "I just think when you sit back and evaluate, there's something about mental toughness, physical toughness that I think is important to winning."
Left unsaid was what that means about last year's team, which struggled to a 7-6 record, the Hokies' worst in 20 years, and led to an overhaul of the offensive coaching staff.
Now, as Tech prepares to begin spring drills Wednesday, toughness has been the buzzword of the offseason. Beamer and his staff have mentioned it repeatedly, in relation to the offensive line, the running game and the team's mental makeup.
Two players earned effort recognition at all five of the 6 a.m. workouts - cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Kyshoen Jarrett. The number of standout players increased exponentially throughout the week, with three earning an effort shirt the first day and 64 on the fifth day.
"I thought the kids handled it great," Beamer said. "I thought each day got a little bit better. Each time I thought we fought through some legs that were tired and bodies that were tired, and they fought through that great."
Beamer said one of his top priorities this spring was to establish a pecking order at tailback.
The Hokies split carries among four backs last year. J.C. Coleman led the way with 492 yards, the lowest output for a leading Virginia Tech running back since 1967.
Three of them - Coleman, Michael Holmes and Tony Gregory - are back, joined by Trey Edmunds, a promising player who redshirted as a freshman.
Beamer said Edmunds "is kind of right in the middle of it. ... He's had a great offseason and I think he's got a bright future."
Offensive tackle will be a position to watch this spring, with Nick Becton, Vinston Painter and Michael Via gone.
Junior Mark Shuman will start at the No. 1 spot at left tackle, followed by redshirt freshman Augie Conte. On the right side, junior Laurence Gibson will be No. 1 going into the spring, followed by redshirt freshman Adam Taraschke.
"Those are two promising young guys, I think," Beamer said of Conte and Taraschke. "Let them battle."
Junior Nick Acree, who is coming off ACL surgery, will slide inside from tackle to guard and compete for playing time there.
Other than cornerback Antone Exum, who is out for spring after suffering an ACL tear in January, Tech has few injuries worries.
Beamer thinks fullback Riley Beiro (shoulder) might still be limited after surgery last fall. Center Andrew Miller (leg/ankle) and receiver D.J. Coles (knee) participated in most of the 6 a.m. workouts and should be ready for spring drills Beamer said he thinks linebacker Tariq Edwards looks completely healthy after a lost 2012 season with a leg/knee injury.
The medical redshirts Virginia Tech is seeking for receiver Josh Stanford and linebacker Deon Clarke have not yet been approved by the NCAA. Beamer is hopeful that will happen soon. Center Jack Willenbrock will be a tight end this spring. Jerome Wright and Fuller Hoepner will both play fullback. Josh Trimble and Derek DiNardo will work at whip linebacker.
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