What you need to know ... While the temptation will be to pound
away with talented sophomore backs Branden Ore and George Bell
behind a big, but inexperienced, offensive line, the real stars
are in the receiving corps with five tremendous game breakers to
work with. The big question is at quarterback where big,
talented sophomores Sean Glennon and Cory Holt will battle with
redshirt freshman Ike Whitaker to take over for Marcus Vick.
Passing: Cory Holt
4-12, 80 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Branden Ore
109 carries, 647 yds, 6 TD
Receiving: David Clowney
34 catches, 619 yds, 3 TD
Star of the offense: Junior WR Eddie Royal
Player that has to step up and become a star:
Quarterbacks Sean Glennon, Cory Holt, and/or Ike Whitaker
Unsung star on the rise: Junior OT Duane Brown
Best pro prospect: Senior WR David Clowney
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Royal, 2) Clowney, 3)
RB Branden Ore
Strength of the offense: Wide receiver
Weakness of the offense:
Virginia Tech has been able to navigate the brutal ACC
waters over the last two seasons thanks to wonderful quarterback
play from Bryan Randall and Marcus Vick, but after Vick decided
to keep screwing up leading to a swift kick off the team,
the situation is a bit cloudy. Sophomores Sean Glennon and Cory
Holt, along with redshirt freshman Ike Whitaker, are all about
the same size going 6-4 and around 215 to 220 pounds with live
arms and big upside. Glennon is the best decision maker of the
group and is the most ready to roll, but he has the shortest
ceiling of the three. Cory Holt does a little of everything
well, but he has to prove he can be a consistent passer. Ike
Whitaker has the most talent, but he needs time. The battle will
rage on until opening day.
The key to the unit: Keep the completion percentage
up. The passing game should be the best it has been in a while,
but efficiency and a limit on the mistakes will be vital.
Quarterback Rating: 6.5
- Sean Glennon, Soph.
Glennon redshirted last year when it became obvious that Marcus
Vick was going to be the main man. At 6-4 and 215 pounds, he's a
good-sized passer with decent skills and a good command of the
offense. He's not going to run much, if at all, but he should be
a more consistent passer than Vick.
He saw time in four games
completing 8 of 11 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
- Cory Holt, Soph. - 4-12, 33%, 80 yds, 1 TD, 3
carries, 1 yard
At 6-4 and 222 pounds with great mobility and a big-time arm,
Holt has all the tools. If he can prove he can consistently move
the chains and be a 55% passer when he gets his chance to play,
he'll make the quarterback controversy a bit more interesting.
He saw a little bit of garbage time last year and didn't show
too much, so essentially, he's unproven.
- Ike Whitaker, RFr.
Whitaker is the future of Virginia Tech football, but he almost
saw his career end before it began when he got nailed on
underage drinking, destruction of property and public
intoxication charges. He'll be right in the hunt for the
starting job this fall with the size at 6-4 and 212 pounds and
the speed to be a dangerous prospect.
There's tremendous talent in the
backfield. There's just not as much as in past seasons with
Cedric Humes and Mike Imoh gone. Branden Ore has to be healthy
after suffering a shoulder problem and George Bell has to stay
healthy and live up to the immense promise he brought to the
program out of high school. Jesse Allen is a terrific blocking
fullback who'll pave the way for whoever is toting the rock.
The key to the unit: Stay on the field. Ore and Bell
not only have to be good, they have to be durable. More of the
rushing workload will fall on their shoulders without Marcus
Vick to run around anymore.
Running Back Rating: 8
- Branden Ore, Soph. - 109 carries, 647 yds, 5.9 ypc, 6
TD, 5 catches, 36 yds. 7.2 ypc
Ore is a quick back with the feet to bounce it to the outside
and the power to run up the middle when needed. He's 5-11 and
204 pounds with good experience ripping off three-100-yard days
when he got the chance to get some significant carries. He was
out this spring trying to get an injured shoulder healthy.
- Fullback Jesse Allen, Sr. - 3 catches, 15 yards, 1 TD
A next-level blocker who'll blow open mile-wide holes, the 6-0,
243-pound senior is a great cog in the attack. He's not going to
see any carries, but he's a decent receiver when he needs to be
and can also be used on special teams. There are few stronger
- George Bell, Soph. - 42 carries, 192 yds, 4.6 ypc,
With all the talent in the world, Bell has been a disappointment
so far after coming in as one of the nation's top recruits in
2004. He's a quick 220-pound with excellent power, but the light
simply hasn't gone on yet. While he's a hard worker, injuries
have been a bit of a problem and finding his way in the crowded
running back mix has been an even bigger issue. Now he'll get
every shot to be the main man.
- Kenny Lewis, Fr.
Back playing football after spending the last two years with the
Cincinnati Reds farm system. He's a very strong, very quick back
who should be an interesting option going into the fall after he
gets into football shape. He'll be a 23-year-old true freshman
by the middle of the season.
- Fullback Carlton Weatherford, Jr.
Weatherford hit the weights hard and appears ready to be a key
contributor. While he's not nearly the power blocker that Jesse
Allen is, and he's a bit undersized at 5-9 and 220 pounds, he's
a high-energy player who should see plenty of action.
The potential is there for this to be the
best receiving corps in the ACC if everyone starts to play up to
their capabilities. A shocking group as freshmen in 2004, they
had a good, but inconsistent 2005. Now there's no excuse to not
blow up with big passing quarterbacks fighting it out to take
over for Marcus Vick and two years of experience to rely on.
Eddie Royal and Josh Hyman are decent-sized speed receivers, and
David Clowney and Josh Morgan are big speed receivers. The big
concern is replacing sticky-handed tight end Jeff King with two redshirt freshmen.
The key to the unit: Consistency. There are so many
good options that it's been hard for any one to break out. Only
David Clowney has managed to be steady.
Receiver Rating: 9
- Eddie Royal, Jr. - 27 catches, 31 yds, 11.7 ypc, 2 TD
2004's leading receiver finished third last year on the team
last year as a steady target as well as a solid punt returner.
He's a speedy 5-10 and 171 pounds who should be making more big
plays than he has over the last few seasons. With his strength
and game-breaking ability, he needs to be averaging more than 15
yards per catch and has to hit a few home runs.
- Josh Morgan, Jr. - 28 catches, 471 yds, 16.8 ypc, 4 TD
The team's second leading receiver last year, Morgan has
next-level potential if he can get someone to consistently get
him the ball. With good size at 6-1 and 215 pounds and excellent
deep ball ability, Morgan is a dangerous receiver at split end
averaging 19 yards per grab over his first two seasons
highlighted by a brilliant seven-catch, 128-yard, one touchdown
day in the ACC championship loss to Florida State. The sky's the
limit if he can be more polished and more consistent.
- Tight end Sam Wheeler, RFr.
The likely new top tight end target, the 6-3, 240-pound Wheeler
has the potential to grow into a solid go-to receiver. It's
asking too much for him to be Jeff King, but he's athletic
enough to see several passes thrown his way. The blocking will
need to come in time.
- David Clowney, Sr. - 34 catches, 619 yds, 18.2 ypc,
The team's leading receiver last season is also one of the
team's fastest players. While he averaged 18.2 yards per catch,
he didn't have any monster games becoming steady from start to
finish with a catch in every game and with only one game, the
ACC Championship, with more than three grabs. He's speedy enough
to be part of the Virginia Tech track team, and now he has to
take those wheels to the football field and make more huge
- Josh Hyman, Jr. - 13 catches, 197 yds, 15.2 ypc
Hyman has had his moments of greatness here and there over the
last two seasons, but not enough of them. He's a decent-sized
prospect who hasn't been able to recapture the magic of the
first half of his freshman season and has regressed a bit after
not getting enough work. Expect that to change as the coaching
staff looks for ways to get him the ball a bit more.
- Justin Harper, Jr. - 16 catches, 295 yds, 18.4 ypc, 1
At 6-3 and 210 pound, Harper is a big receiver who has seen a
few catches here and there as a reserve over the last two
seasons. He has decent deep speed and could create a few
mismatch problems in three and four wide sets. He'll push hard
for starting time.
- Tight end Ed Wang, RFr.
At 6-5 and 262 pounds, Wang is a big tight end option who'll
likely be used mostly to block in two tight end sets. He needs
to become a more polished receiver with better route running
New line coach Curt Newsome has some work to do with only
two returning starters and needing some true freshmen to be top
producers right away. Center Danny McGrath and tackle Duane Brown are
the main men who'll have to raise their play to an All-ACC level early
on, while career reserves Brandon Frye, Nick Marshman and Ryan Shuman
have got to step in and perform like the all-star talents they're
The key to the unit: Pass protection, pass
protection, pass protection. It's a big enough group to open up some
good-sized holes for the ground attack, but it has to try to be better
than last year's front five that allowed 34 sacks.
Offensive Line Rating: 7
- OT Brandon Frye, Sr.
Frye was the main backup last season at both tackle spots and saw plenty
of playing time highlighted by a surprise start against Louisville in
the bowl game. At 6-4 and 302 pounds, he's a big blocker with enough
experience to step in and be consistent on the left side. He could
switching sides with Duane Brown.
- OG Nick Marshman, Soph.
After seeing a little bit of playing time as a reserve and on special
teams, the massive 6-5, 346-pound sophomore will take over on the right
side. Is he too big? He's not going to do too much on the move, but he's
tremendously strong and should open some huge holes.
- C Danny McGrath, Sr.
McGrath stepped up in a big way turning into a consistent, talented
center allowing Will Montgomery to play guard. He's a quick 287 pounds
who plays stronger than his size and only allowed one sack. Expected to
return 100% after undergoing shoulder surgery this spring, he has
- OG Ryan Shuman, Soph.
A decent reserve last season at center, the rock-solid 301-pound
sophomore will move to right guard. He could see time back at center if
anything happens to Dan McGrath, but he's a bitter fit for one spot
- OT Duane Brown, Jr.
Brown was thrown into the fire late in fall practice last year moving
from tight end to tackle at the last second. He's an athletic 6-5 and
278 pounds with tremendous strength in the running game. While he took
some big-time lumps and made several expected mistakes, he showed
tremendous upside. He started every game at right tackle last year and
could end up moving to the left side before the start of the season.
- G Sergio Render, Fr.
The true freshman could end up starting from the word go at right guard;
he's that good. He saw plenty of reps as the number one man with Ryan
Shuman playing center this spring, but the budding 313-pound star will
most likely start out the year as a key reserve.
- T Brandon Gore, Sr.
He's a massive 6-5, 359-pound veteran who'll try to get back this summer
after suffering a broken ankle in the ACC Championship game. He's more
of a guard than a tackle, but he'll start out behind Duane Brown on the
- T Mason Baggett, Sr.
The walk-on has made his biggest impact on the scout team, but with the
lack of overall experience on the line, he'll likely have to be counted
on as a backup behind Brandon Frye at left tackle until true freshman
Aaron Brown is ready to roll.