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Friday, March 30, 2012
Race to replace Wilson on at VT

By Matt Fortuna

Surprise, surprise -- the running backs have been the story during the first week of Virginia Tech's spring practice season.

Such is life after losing the ACC player of the year.

David Wilson will be drafted by an NFL team within the next month, but the Hokies' concern right now is on his replacement, as J.C. Coleman and Michael Holmes battle it out for the starting spot.

And they will square off while facing a new test from running backs coach Shane Beamer, who duct-taped a boxing glove to the end of a pole in hopes of jarring the pigskin loose from the new ball-carriers. Beamer got the idea this offseason from a visit with Texas running backs coach Major Applewhite.

From the Virginian-Pilot's Andy Bitter:
"All last year I was always looking for something like that because we were always doing ball security stuff," Beamer said. "And I was always swatting at the ball and things like that. And that got old real quick. Now, by using the pole, it’s less collision on me."

It's for more than just his own safety. Beamer saw a pattern in fumbles last year that he wants to correct.

"We went back and did a study on all of our fumbles last year," he said. "I think we put the ball on the ground as running backs I think seven times last year. And seven times is way too many. The majority of them, it was good ball security. It was just an arm coming in from the back side that David or Josh didn’t see. And then all of a sudden that knocks it out. So No. 1, that’s constantly putting it in the guys’ heads, thinking about ball security."

Holmes redshirted last season as a freshman and is currently No. 1 on the depth chart, ahead of the early enrollee Coleman, who was ESPNU's No. 9 player in the state of Virginia this past season.

Both dealt with Beamer's new trick well, hanging on to the football and avoiding any fumbles — even to the displeasure of their coach.
"I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get anything out," Beamer said. "I thought I would. I guess I was being a little too soft today or something."