Virginia Tech wide receiver Dyrell Roberts calls spring practice “a tease.”
And for the fifth-year senior, it’s even moreso this month -- considering how eager he is to play again next fall after missing 16 games over the last two seasons because of a leg injury in 2010, then a broken arm in 2011.
The 6-foot-2, 188-pound athlete from Smithfield, Va., returns as the Hokies’ leading receiver, with 63 catches for 965 yards and five touchdowns in his career.
ESPN.com caught up with him Thursday:
What was the first day of spring practice like for you, knowing you were back and healthy?
Dyrell Roberts: It was good. Of course you’re going to be rusty, but I got back in the swing of things right from the beginning. I’m just knocking some of the rust off, but that’s basically what the spring is for, anyway, to get your timing back and stuff like that, to get back in the football mindset.
… Spring practice doesn’t really change. It’s the same position drills – running routes, catching balls, things like that. I’m used to doing it; it’s more just letting my body get back into football shape, to run those routes time and time again, and things like that.
How has your timing been?
DR: Coming off the arm injury, it really hasn’t been that bad – the rehab and stuff was nothing like my leg. My leg took more work, and more off-the-field work, moreso than my arm did. [With my arm], I was just waiting for it to heal back up, in order to get back in the swing of things. I feel good – even better than I felt a few months ago.
Was it a difficult decision to redshirt last season, when you could have come back?
DR: In some ways it was, because I wanted to come back and I wanted to go out with my senior class, the guys I came in with. But after talking to my family, talking to my coaches, and actually wanting to make it to the next level, I knew that coming back would help me in so many different ways. I came back because I love Virginia Tech, and I love playing football.
What was the most difficult part of sitting out last year?
DR: It was hard sitting out those games, especially because I had already sat out so many games the year before. It made it two times as worse.
Your offense lost a couple of really good wide receivers [Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale] from last season. But you’ve got some experienced guys returning. How do you and Marcus Davis and D.J. Coles expect to play off each other?
DR: We’re all totally different types of players. Marcus is so physical, and so big and strong and fast. I’m more compact, and like to stretch the field a little bit more. And D.J., he’s that power type of guy that can do multiple things, too. But we all bring different aspects to the position, and I think our coaching stuff knows that, and they’re going to use that in different types of ways to try to bring home a couple wins for our program.
Just a couple?
DR: [Laughs] Well, I don’t want to say too much.
How have you seen [quarterback] Logan Thomas progress from last year?
DR: He’s got a lot more confidence. He knows his reads; he knows where the ball is supposed to go. I think the game has slowed down a lot more for him, so I’ve seen him progress a lot – especially coming in, not knowing anything to now, being the leader of the team as the quarterback. He has grown a lot. He comes out to practice each and every day, like we all do, just trying to get better in every aspect.
Both of your injuries came on kick returns. Any worries about returning to that role?
DR: We haven’t put kick return in yet, but I’m doing more punt returns now, which I haven’t done since my freshman year, when I did it the first game. … I talked to Coach, and he said he’d give me an opportunity to get back there. And once we get punt returns down pat, we can think about kick returns, and whether I want to do both, or just one or the other.
What do you want to accomplish between now and the end of spring practice?
DR: Really, I’m just trying to work on the little things; Coach always preaches that if you work on the little things, the big things will take care of themselves. So I’m working on getting my body back in top shape, to take the punishment week-in and week-out, just trying to master everything I can use, going forward.
What are your goals for next fall, now that you’re healthy?
DR: I just want to help my team any way I can, whether it’s in the return game, or offense, whatever it is – I just want to help out my team. Of course, you set personal goals, but I’m more concerned about what my team needs me to do to get the win. That’s what it’s about, is winning games.