ACC: Josh Oglesby

Offseason spotlight: Virginia Tech

February, 22, 2012
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Our offseason spotlight series resumes today with Virginia Tech. A reminder: This series features individual players, position groups and coaches who really need to have big offseasons — starting this spring.

Spotlight: Running backs

2011 summary: Heading into the season, the Hokies had to replace two standout running backs who left school early for the NFL in Ryan Williams and Darren Evans. It didn’t take long for the program’s next star to emerge. The Hokies were led by ACC Player of the Year David Wilson, who was No. 8 in the country in rushing with 122.07 yards per game. He finished the season with 1,709 yards and nine rushing touchdowns. He and backup Josh Oglesby carried the nation’s No. 28 rushing offense. Wilson was held without a rushing touchdown and under 100 yards in two of the games that mattered most, though — the ACC championship loss to Clemson and the Sugar Bowl loss to Michigan.

The skinny: Wilson’s decision to leave early for the NFL wasn’t a surprise, but it was a big hit to the position group’s depth and experience. True freshman J.C. Coleman, an early enrollee, and redshirt freshman Michael Holmes will be the top two options this spring after Tony Gregory had surgery on his knee. Gregory was the No. 3 running back on the depth chart and would have been a top candidate for the No. 1 spot. The staff really likes Holmes, though, and has recruited well at the position. Three more true freshmen will join the team in the fall, and there are a few walk-ons, but the truth is, this is a wide open competition that begins this spring with Coleman and Holmes in the lead.

Coastal Division spring previews

February, 14, 2012
2/14/12
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DUKE

Spring practice start date: Feb. 22
Spring game: March 31

What to watch:
  • The defense in the second season under coordinator Jim Knowles. The Blue Devils should be more comfortable in the 4-2-5 alignment that uses three safeties, but they lost their top safety, Matt Daniels. Will the comfort level of the rest of the defense help compensate for the departure of the team’s top defensive playmaker? More players have a better understanding of the system and philosophy.
  • The health of the team. For Duke to stand a chance at reaching a bowl game, it must have its top players healthy. Guys like defensive end Kenny Anunike, linebacker Kelby Brown and safety Lee Butler have all proved they can make plays, but how quickly will they regain their form?
  • The running game. The offensive line should be deeper, more athletic and more competitive than in past years, and the running game should follow suit. Two of the highest-rated recruits in Duke’s 2012 class were running backs, but will the Blue Devils have to wait until summer camp to see a difference?
GEORGIA TECH

Spring practice start date: March 26
Spring game: April 20

What to watch:
  • The quarterback competition. There’s no question that Tevin Washington is the undisputed starter heading into the spring, but coach Paul Johnson has said he expects backups Vad Lee and Synjyn Days to push Washington. Finding the No. 2 will be a priority this offseason, but will either play well enough to unseat Washington?
  • The status of LB Julian Burnett. He has been the Jackets’ leading tackler, but he also has a medical condition or injury that Johnson won’t comment on publicly. Johnson has said he’ll leave it up to Burnett, but signs are pointing toward his inability to play.
  • The defensive progress. Some Georgia Tech fans were expecting more in the second season of Al Groh’s 3-4 defense, and Johnson is also among those hoping to see more progress this offseason. Groh has to replace two of three starters on the defensive line.
MIAMI

Spring practice start date: March 3
Spring game: April 14

What to watch:
  • The offensive overhaul. The coordinator is the same; it’s the players who will change. How do you replace eight starters on offense? How will the young players contribute and where? The Canes need to replace their leading rusher from a year ago, Lamar Miller, and their starting quarterback, Jacory Harris.
  • The quarterback competition. Is Stephen Morris ready to take over the offense, or will Ryan Williams, Gray Crow or Preston Dewey win the job from him? Morris is the most experienced quarterback in the system, but Williams probably would have pushed Harris for the starting job last year if he didn’t have to sit out for a season per NCAA transfer rules.
  • The new leader on defense. Miami will lose five starters on defense, but none of them had quite the leadership impact as linebacker Sean Spence. Who will be the new coach on the field for the Canes, not to mention compensate for the loss of Spence’s playmaking abilities?
NORTH CAROLINA

Spring practice start date: March 14
Spring game: April 14

What to watch:
  • Buying in. It shouldn’t take much longer than spring practice to know whether the Tar Heels have bought in to first-year coach Larry Fedora, his staff and the changes they plan to make. Fedora has said he’s changing just about everything within the program, including offensive and defensive schemes.
  • How the defense will look in the new scheme with new faces. UNC will switch to a 4-2-5 scheme, which will allow it to have multiple fronts and looks and go from four down linemen to three without subs. The Heels will need more defensive backs and more hybrid players who can play linebacker/safety and linebacker/defensive end. Will they find them this spring?
  • An exciting offense. As good as the offensive line was last season, it should be even better this season with four starters returning and untapped potential at center. And if quarterback Bryn Renner had a 3,000-yard, record-setting season with bone spurs in his ankle, how much better can he be after his surgery?
VIRGINIA

Spring practice start date: March 19
Spring game: April 14

What to watch:
  • Kicking competitions. They’re all gone -- the placekicker, punter and kickoff specialist. When you lose all three of them, it’s a question mark. The Hoos have some options but no answers.
  • Defensive replacements. Virginia has to replace seven starters on defense, including veterans like defensive end Cam Johnson and cornerback Chase Minnifield. Two of the three starting linebackers return, but the secondary is filled with guys who played sparingly or redshirted last year.
  • The next go-to receiver. Virginia has several young, talented receivers, but which one of them will emerge as the go-to player for quarterback Michael Rocco? Kris Burd leaves the biggest shoes to fill on the offense.
VIRIGNIA TECH

Spring practice start date: March 28
Spring game: April 21

What to watch:
  • Life without David Wilson. Virginia Tech begins the spring in search of its next great running back, as Wilson left early for the NFL draft, and his backup, Josh Oglesby, has graduated. True freshman J.C. Coleman and redshirt freshman Michael Holmes will be the top two options, as Tony Gregory will be out to recover from surgery on his knee.
  • New-look offensive line. Adding to the offensive uncertainty is the fact that Virginia Tech must replace four starters on the offensive line. All four were redshirt seniors, and there are likely to be growing pains while trying to compensate for the loss of their leadership and knowledge.
  • Secondary replacements. The Hokies will be challenged to find replacements for Jayron Hosley and Eddie Whitley in the secondary. Whitley had played cornerback, rover, outside linebacker and free safety during his career. Hosley, who led the nation in interceptions in 2010, decided to leave early for the NFL draft.
We’ve already taken a look at what the recruiting needs were for the Atlantic Division. Let’s shift our attention to the Coastal Division. Here’s a look at where each school’s biggest holes will be in 2012 or are anticipated to be in the near future:

DUKE


Offensive skill positions: After last year’s rare class that didn’t include either a quarterback or running back, both positions are needed in this group. Quarterback Thomas Sirk -- the MVP of the 57th annual Florida Athletic Coaches Association North-South All-Star Football Classic last December -- has already enrolled in school while Shaquille Powell -- a PARADE All-American running back from Las Vegas -- has committed to the program. In addition, with David Cutcliffe’s offense, wide receivers and tight ends also are a priority.

Kicker: Will Snyderwine, who earned first team All-America honors as a junior before struggling through a sub-par season in 2011, graduated, but Duke has a commitment from Ohio native Ross Martin, considered the No. 2 placekicking prospect in the country by ESPN.com.

Safety: With the transition to a 4-2-5 alignment that utilizes three safeties, this becomes an annual point of emphasis. The Blue Devils lose All-American Matt Daniels to graduation.

GEORGIA TECH


Defensive line: This is the most glaring need in the current class. The Yellow Jackets have to replace senior starters Logan Walls (DT) and Jason Peters (DE), but return Izaan Cross (DE) and solid backups T.J. Barnes (DT), Emmanuel Dieke (DE) and Euclid Cummings (DE). The Jackets are expected to sign about 18 players in this year’s class, and five of them should be defensive linemen.

Wide receiver:This is another glaring need after the departures of Stephen Hill, who decided to leave early for the NFL draft, and Tyler Melton. Darren Waller and Jeff Greene, who both played last season as true freshmen, have lots of potential, but the position still needs depth.


MIAMI

Defensive backs: There’s still a lot of depth with this group, and the return of Ray-Ray Armstrong and Vaughn Telemaque helps, but the Canes have to replace two starters in the secondary and have six commits in the current class to help do that.

Defensive line: The Canes have to replace Adewale Ojomo, Micanor Regis, Andrew Smith and Olivier Vernon from last year’s two-deep. The defensive end position was a particular focus in this class.

Receiver: This position lost a lot with the departures of Tommy Streeter, LaRon Byrd and Travis Benjamin. Allen Hurns is now the veteran of the group, along with redshirt senior Kendal Thompkins. There are five receivers currently committed in this class.

Quarterback: Beyond Stephen Morris, Miami has a lot of questions at the position and not a lot of experience. True freshmen Gray Crow and Preston Dewey are already on the roster, along with redshirt sophomore Ryan Williams.

NORTH CAROLINA

Defensive line: This is one of the biggest areas of concern after the departures of Quinton Coples and Tydreke Powell.

Receivers: Larry Fedora’s offense will make good use of this group, but he needs to replace standout Dwight Jones.

Linebackers: This group was thin to begin with in 2011, and now the Heels need to replace outgoing senior Zach Brown. Kevin Reddick is now the main man.

Safety: UNC will have to replace two starters in Matt Merletti, Charles Brown and Jonathan Smith, so this position will have to be rebuilt for the future.

VIRGINIA

Defensive back: This should be the main priority in this class. The Cavaliers will lose four DBs, including two starting safeties in Rodney McCleod and Corey Mosley, and standout cornerback Chase Minnifield. They’ll also miss Dom Joseph, who came in for the nickel packages. Demetrious Nicholson, who started as a true freshman last year, is suddenly the veteran of the group.

Offensive line: The Hoos will have to replace their starting center and left guard. Redshirt freshman center Cody Wallace could get a promotion, and sophomore right guard Luke Bowanko started in the bowl game. They’ve got some big bodies waiting in the wings, but they’ll have some questions to answer here this spring.

Kickers: This position needs to be rebuilt, as the Cavaliers lose Robert Randolph, who finished sixth all time in scoring at UVa, kickoff specialist Chris Hinkebein, and four-year punter Jimmy Howell. The position is wide open heading into the spring.

VIRGINIA TECH

Running back: This one is a no-brainer, as the Hokies have lost four players here in the past two years. David Wilson and his backup, Josh Oglesby, were the latest to depart, and Tony Gregory just had ACL surgery and is out for the spring. The staff likes Michael Holmes, who redshirted last year, and J.C. Coleman enrolled last week.

Receiver: The Hokies will miss Danny Coale and Jarrett Boykin, and next year’s class has three seniors in Dyrell Roberts, D.J. Coles, and Marcus Davis. The future of the position is young, and the staff is still going after several uncommitted players pretty hard.

Defensive line: This year’s class already includes at least five committed defensive linemen, and the Hokies will be particularly thin at noseguard. They had some players graduate early who didn’t play a lot, but at least provided depth.

Linebacker:The Hokies have four committed, and are still chasing another just to build the depth. The staff missed on some recruits at this position last year and would like to make up for it in this class.

Experience lacking behind David Wilson

December, 19, 2011
12/19/11
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Virginia Tech running back David Wilson hasn't made up his mind as to whether or not he'll leave early for the NFL draft, but I spoke with running backs coach Shane Beamer this past weekend about what the group would like without Wilson.

In a word? Young.

"If David were to leave early, we've got a real, real young group to say the least," Beamer said.

Josh Oglesby, the Hokies' No. 2 back, will graduate, meaning Tony Gregory, who is the third-string running back heading into the AllState Sugar Bowl, would receive an immediate promotion. Gregory played in all 13 games this season, but had only 16 carries for 27 yards.

"Tony has a lot of talent and he's practiced well this year," Beamer said. "I wish I'd had played him more, but David was just playing so well. Tony would be the leader going into next year. We've got a freshman we redshirted in Michael Holmes, who I think is going to be a really good player, and we've recruited well. I'm really excited about the guys who are committed to us who are in high school right now. My job will be a lot tougher next year -- I know that -- if David were to leave, but I don't think Virginia Tech has ever lacked for a running back. Running backs across the country know what kind of tradition we have here. They know what the expectations here are. Whoever is in that hole, he'll be really talented, and we'll have guys around him who will help."

Pregame notes

October, 1, 2011
10/01/11
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BLACKSBURG, Va. -- There are plenty of streaks on the line today in this game, and the ACC will have one less undefeated team when it's all over.

Virginia Tech has won 12 straight ACC games, and Clemson has lost five straight to the Hokies. Which streaks will survive?
  • If Clemson is going to snap its losing streak, it will have to play better run defense. Virginia Tech tailbacks David Wilson and Josh Oglesby have combined for 10 of the Hokies' 11 rushing touchdowns this year.
  • If Virginia Tech is going to extend its ACC winning streak, the Hokies defense will have to adjust quickly to Clemson's up-tempo offense. The Tigers ran about 30 more plays than Florida State last weekend and wore the Noles' defense out.

You could debate who needs this win more, but consider what a Clemson win would mean for the ACC: It would be the first time an ACC team has defeated three straight ranked opponents.

ACC's lunchtime links

September, 14, 2011
9/14/11
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Saturday can't get here soon enough!

ACC's lunchtime links

August, 17, 2011
8/17/11
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An abbreviated version today, guys. Kinda busy here at Miami ...
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- In an effort to learn more about his players, Virginia Tech running backs coach Shane Beamer had each of them fill out a general form about where they’re from, their family, academics, and their hobbies and interests.

David Wilson filled out the latter with “acrobatics.”

“That was a first,” Beamer said with a laugh.

[+] EnlargeDavid Wilson
Bob Donnan/US PresswireDavid Wilson will now get his shot at being the Hokies' primary back.
“Oh lord,” quarterback Logan Thomas said with a laugh when asked about Wilson. “He just has so much energy he doesn’t have a clue what to do with it.”

Beamer does.

Wilson, who claims to have once done as many as 20 back-flips in a row, runs a 4.29 in the 40-yard dash and is an integral member of Virginia Tech’s track team, will now get a chance to showcase his athleticism as the Hokies’ primary ball carrier. Following the early departures of record-setting running backs Darren Evans and Ryan Williams to the NFL, there are 10 fullbacks and running backs remaining on the roster, and only three of them -- Wilson, Josh Oglesby and Tony Gregory -- were recruited as scholarship players.

“I’ve heard of one player at a position leaving school early,” Shane Beamer said, “but in all my years, I’ve never heard of losing two guys like that with Darren and Ryan.

“It’s a concern,” Beamer said. “… For Oglesby and some of these fullbacks, it’s a heck of an opportunity for them. We’re going to have to cross-train some of the guys. Some of the fullbacks will have to know tailback and things like that. This spring is a concern and it’s major concern when you get into fall and we start playing games.”

Unless, of course, Wilson capitalizes on his potential and the depth behind him develops. He and Beamer watched a lot of film together of last season.

“As good as he was, and as electric as he was, I think there’s a lot of things that he can do better,” Beamer said. “We’ve talked about that.”

Going into this season, Wilson said he just wants the staff to know they have a “sturdy” running back.

“I definitely want to be the guy on the team where, if we’re in a tough situation, the coaches feel comfortable with having me on the field and know that I’m going to come through with a play,” he said.

Wilson has already made a name for himself with his game-changing plays as a kick returner, but this offseason he’s working on becoming a more complete back. Last season he was third on the team in rushing with 619 yards on 113 carries (5.5 yards per carry). He scored five rushing touchdowns, four receiving and two on kickoffs.

Not a bad start, but he knows the expectations are much higher this year.

“There’s only three scholarship running backs in there, and with me being the third-string last year, I’m definitely expected to be the man this year,” Wilson said. “I’m definitely ready. Since I put down my high school pads and picked up college ones I’ve been expected to have a strong role in college football. Now my opportunity is here. I have to take advantage of it.”

Frank Beamer on position changes

March, 28, 2011
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There will be some significant movement on the roster when the Hokies start spring practices on Wednesday. Here are the major position changes, followed by coach Frank Beamer's take on each:

Chris Drager from defensive end back to tight end: "What an unselfish guy. I came to him a couple years back and said to him, 'We need help at defensive end,' and I really think he feels like -- and I do, too -- his best NFL position is probably tight end. There's some value to having played both. NFL people will look at that as a positive, too. He's been a very unselfish player, very much a team player."

Vinston Painter from guard to tackle: "Vince has had a great offseason program, running a great 40, strong and has really excelled in the weight room here. You need those athletic guys at tackle. They've got to block those athletic defensive ends. If he can get out there at tackle and play the way I think he's capable of -- and I think he's ready to do that -- he could be a big, big help for this football team."

Laurence Gibson from tackle to guard: "That's a good position for him. He's not quite as nifty as he probably needs to be out there at tackle. That helps him."

James Hopper from rover to tailback: "He was an exceptional tailback in high school. That will give him a chance to get in and use some of his quickness."

Antone Exum from free safety to rover: "You have a guy who's got a lot of athletic ability. We want him to really hone in and play consistent, play the way he's very, very capable."

Riley Beiro from tailback to fullback: "We've really got some good fullbacks in there. Joey Phillips, Martin Scales are two guys I really think have a lot of ability, and Beiro fits into that category also. We're getting some guys there that we really feel solid about at that fullback position."

Dominique Patterson and Nick Dew to whip linebacker: "We're really looking for playmakers there at that whip and we've got several there right now. As we look at them, I see when you talk about Jeron Gouveia-Winslow, Alonzo Tweedy, Patterson, Dew ... you're talking about some really good players. We'll see what happens there, but our first priority is to get some good playmakers at the whip position and then some of those guys may need to go somewhere else. They're good players and for the most part, they need to be on the field playing."

Josh Oglesby from fullback to tailback: "He's been a good tailback. With the two guys coming out early, I think he gives us a very solid, very good tailback."

Ryan Williams out for Saturday's game

September, 30, 2010
9/30/10
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Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams will miss Saturday's game at NC State with a hamstring injury, according to the team's injury report released on Thursday. The Hokies will obviously need all of the help they can get to match NC State's offense, but if there's one team that can afford to miss a starting running back, it's Virginia Tech. With Darren Evans and David Wilson, the Hokies were able to beat Boston College 19-0. It doesn't matter who is running the ball, though, if they don't get the blocks and into the end zone. Here's the full report, along with NC State's injury report:

VIRGINIA TECH

Out

Kwamaine Battle (knee)
Eric Martin (knee)
Barquell Rivers (quad)
Lorenzo Williams (foot)
Ryan Williams (hamstring)

Probable

Josh Oglesby (ankle)
Eddie Whitley (stinger)

NC STATE

PROBABLE
James Washington, HB - hamstring
Markus Kuhn, DT - knee

QUESTIONABLE - None listed

DOUBTFUL - None listed

OUT
Brandon Barnes, RB - ankle
Jarvis Byrd, CB - knee
Sylvester Crawford, DE - knee
Mikel Overgaard, OT - elbow
*Jesse Riley, DB - knee
*Rashard Smith, DB - knee
* - out for the season

Virginia Tech's Kenny Lewis Jr. leaves program

August, 6, 2010
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Tailback Kenny Lewis Jr. has decided not to return to the football program, according to a release from the school. Lewis played in 27 games during his career, starting eight of them. He rushed for 657 yards on 175 carries and scored nine rushing touchdowns in his career. He also caught 11 passes for 57 yards and a score.

No reason was given for Lewis' decision, but it's obvious any running back not named Darren Evans or Ryan Williams will have a tough time getting on the field this fall. Lewis has shoulder surgery in spring of 2008, and he also tore his Achilles and was unable to participate in offseason workouts or 2009 spring practices. He took a medical redshirt during the fall and got his first contact this spring. He never completely regained his form, so his decision isn't a complete surprise. Still, this could affect David Wilson's redshirt decision, as Josh Oglesby moved to fullback, where he was listed as the co-starter after moving in the spring. Without Lewis, the Hokies' top options are Evans, Williams, Wilson, and redshirt freshman Tony Gregory.
Virginia Tech is the final ACC team to open spring practice, and you could say the best comes last.

Just don't tell that to Hokies head coach Frank Beamer.

Virginia Tech likely will be a preseason top-10 team and a popular choice to win the league for the third time in the past four years. Beamer's bunch is absolutely loaded at running back with Ryan Williams and Darren Evans. The Hokies also bring back ACC pass efficiency leader Tyrod Taylor and several solid defenders.

It's a strong group, but Beamer has no plans to sit back and relax this spring.

"Any time you're talking about top 10, and you're talking about replacing both kickers, that's a concern ...," Beamer told reporters Monday. "I think the talent level is good. It's just you've got some young guys there."

What are some key areas to watch as Virginia Tech opens spring drills? Here's a quick look:

  • Position changes: Virginia Tech has several of them, most notably Josh Oglesby moving from running back to fullback and Jake Johnson moving from linebacker to defensive end. The Hokies don't normally feature their fullbacks but could look to do more with Oglesby, a highly touted prospect buried on the depth chart.
  • Running back: The Hokies know they have a great option in Williams, but they'll be closely watching how Evans responds this spring after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. Beamer expects Evans to push Williams for the starting job, but you never know how players respond to major knee injuries.
  • Specialists: As Beamer mentioned, both the starting kicker and punter jobs are open after the departures of Matt Waldron and Brent Bowden. Several players are in the mix at kicker, including Chris Hazley and Justin Myer, while Brian Saunders is expected to step in at punter. Special teams are a huge deal at Virginia Tech, so plenty of eyes will be on these two competitions.
  • Defense: Virginia Tech loses seven starters, including three along the defensive line and All-ACC linebacker Cody Grimm. In addition, linebacker Barquell Rivers is out for the spring following quadriceps surgery. Alonzo Tweedy, Jeron Gouveia-Winslow and Lorenzo Williams are in the mix to fill Grimm's spot at outside linebacker. The Hokies need to build depth along the line and especially at the end spots, where Chris Drager and Steven Friday try to nail down starting spots.

ACC position superlatives: Virginia Tech

March, 12, 2010
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The Hokies are up next in our series about the strongest and weakest positions for each team in the ACC:

Strongest position: Running back

Key returnees: Darren Evans, Ryan Williams, Josh Oglesby, David Wilson

Key departures: None

The skinny: The staff still isn’t sure how much they can expect from Evans this spring as he continues to recover from a torn ACL, but the Hokies should have two healthy 1,000-yard running backs by the season opener. Virginia Tech has a lot of depth with the return of Oglesby, who was the team’s third-leading rusher a year ago behind Williams and quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Wilson declined to redshirt last year and played in all 13 games, had only 59 carries but was a valuable kick returner. Wilson will be given the opportunity to redshirt again this year.

Weakest position: Defensive line

Key returnees: DT John Graves

Key departures: DT Cordarrow Thompson, DE Nekos Brown, DE Jason Worilds

The skinny: The decision of Worilds to leave school early and enter the NFL draft was another hit to a unit already tasked with replacing veterans. In addition to losing three of four starters up front, the Hokies also graduated top backup defensive tackle Demetrius Taylor. The staff has high expectations for Steven Friday to blossom as a senior at defensive end, and Chris Drager, who moved from tight end last year, now has little choice but to stay on the defensive side and help out at defensive end. The interior line is Bud Foster’s biggest concern.

Two answers for Virginia Tech fans

October, 13, 2009
10/13/09
2:30
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich


Virginia Tech fans seem to have two pressing questions on their minds these days: 1. Why don't we see David Wilson more, and 2. What's going to happen next year when Darren Evans is healthy and the backfield is too crowded?

Well, I spoke with running backs coach Billy Hite on Monday and asked him for you.

 
 Ned Dishman/Getty Images
 David Wilson might get the ball more if Tech didn't have so many talented running backs.
Regarding Wilson, Hite said:

"David's done a pretty good job of picking it up. The problem is there's not enough balls to go around. With Ryan [Williams] playing so well and [Josh] Oglesby coming in ... he averaged 9 yards per carry against Duke and 12 yards per carry against Miami. That's the problem you get into sometimes. I think David is getting great experience. He got 18 plays in the game the other day. He's getting some great experience. He had two plays in the game where he almost breaks 'em for touchdowns. One time we were running the outside zone and if the tackle had just turned about a half step quicker, I believe David would've been in the end zone, I really do. Right now we still have a long season left. He's got to be ready if something happens to Ryan or something happens to Josh, he's got to be ready to carry the load. I'm glad we're playing him, I really am. He's on our special teams, he's a return guy for me. And he's working hard, but right now, the other two are a little bit ahead of him."

On what the heck he's going to do next year when Darren comes back:

"I'm going to tell those guys the same thing I told them at the beginning of this year: I don't make the decision on who starts. You guys in this room make the decision who starts, who plays second team and who plays third team. I'm going to play the best player, and that's going to be the starter, and whoever is playing the next best is going to be the first guy in the ballgame. It's going to be up to them. I think that's why our backs are so good, because of the competition they face every day. The neat thing is when they go into a ballgame, if Ryan does something good, well, Josh wants to top that. Those guys, they're very focused the whole time knowing a mistake could cost them a spot. None of them can look back at all. They really can't. They can't look behind and see what's coming up behind them."

Hokies for Herzlich

October, 9, 2009
10/09/09
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Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich


Last year, Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich left a lasting impression on Virginia Tech running back Darren Evans. They are two stars for their respective teams who won’t be playing on Saturday when the Hokies host the Eagles.

Evans suffered a season-ending torn ACL in his left knee, and Herzlich was diagnosed in May with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer.

But that doesn’t mean they won’t meet each other on the field again on Saturday.

Between the first and second quarters, Evans will present Herzlich with a check for $9,494.94 -- a total in honor of Herzlich’s No. 94 jersey raised by the players and their fans that will be donated to the Virginia Tech chapter of Uplifting Athletes to benefit research of Ewing’s Sarcoma.

“I know last year Darren talked about Mark,” said Virginia Tech running back Josh Oglesby. “He said, ‘Man, that’s the best linebacker I’ve played against.’ For both of those guys to sit out this season, it hurts the ACC, missing two of the best players. For Darren to present that check to him, I know it will mean a lot to Darren and Mark.”

For the past two weeks, the football program has been selling wristbands for $1. As a fellow linebacker, Cody Grimm said he was happy to be a part of the fund raising effort.

“He’s a heck of a player,” Grimm said. “It’s terrible what happened to him. We obviously wish we could be playing against him. He’s one of the scariest guys I’ve ever played against. The guy’s a monster. We’re happy we could help him out any way we can.”

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