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Posted at 11:26 AM ET, 03/27/2012

NFL quarterback coach George Whitfield calls Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas ‘very, very scary’

Quarterbacks coach George Whitfield, a former Youngstown State quarterback under coach Jim Tressel, has become a trendy name in the football world after training Andrew Luck, Cam Newton and Ben Roethlisberger in recent years, and Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas worked out with him for a week during spring break earlier this month in San Diego. By the end of their time together, Whitfield was raving about Thomas’s combination of size, agility and brains.

“I’m so incredibly impressed with his ability to learn and just pick things up and go,” Whitfield said in a telephone interview. “That’s what you want. You want a guy that’s impressionable as a student, regardless of the talent. Logan just happens to be very, very scary. You just see how physically imposing he is when he gets off the bus, but a lot like Roethlisberger, these guys are so big that you’re blown away how athletic, how quick, how light on their feet they are.

“He started basically playing quarterback as an upperclassman in high school and has basically been learning on the fly ever since. And now, I mean, I think he’s amazing. I think the guy, the combination of intangibles, athleticism, and from the neck up just makes him scary.”

Whitfield was so intrigued by Thomas that he went to several NFL scouts after their time together and asked them who could potentially be the No. 1 quarterback selected in next year’s draft other than USC’s Matt Barkley and Florida State’s E.J. Manuel. Whitfield made it a point not to say he had been training Thomas, and still, Thomas’s name kept coming up.

Whitfield said he was particularly impressed with Thomas’s ability to throw on the run, and was surprised at the fluidity and mobility the 260-pound specimen showed.

“He can knock a man down with the football, but a lot of guys’ bootlegs, they’re moving backwards. They don’t want to be moving to their weak side or close side,” Whitfield said. “I’m chasing him with brooms, working around cones and all he needs to do is see it and he sees it and then immediately — and just like the great ones — they look at it and say, ‘Okay this is what they’re trying do. I have an answer for this.’ He’s only 20. This kid was absolutely, he’s awesome.”

Whitfield praised Virginia Tech quarterbacks coach Mike O’Cain and the entire Hokies offensive staff for how they brought Thomas along last season, not feeding him too much information once he got on the field but also gradually increasing his responsbilities in the offense. “Sometimes you can bound a guy up by giving him everything.”

Thomas got O’Cain’s blessing before going out to San Diego, and O’Cain said he encouraged his pupil to seek some outside guidance because “any time you can go out and work on a skill with a different person, that’s good. I think you learn things from different people, little drills and things like that. Logan and I talked a little bit about it. I think he enjoyed it, felt it was very much worth his while, got a few little things that could help him.”

Whitfield said the two points he and Thomas focused on over the week were consistency in play and managing bad plays. The coach emphasized to Thomas that becoming an elite quarterback is not necessarily just about throwing for more than 300 yards. Instead, he wants to see Thomas “take care of the whole sideline with what I call graduate-level stuff,” such as knowing when to throw the ball away in order to maintain field position and being more aware of his check-down throws and potential running lanes by immersing himself further into his playbook.

But Whitfield’s one week with Thomas was enough to convince him the rising redshirt junior is one of the top college quarterback prospects in the country this year. After workouts, when the two would have breakfast together, Whitfield was shocked at how Thomas could go through every game from last season and remember the exact plays where he could have done something better.

Even off the field, it seems, Whitfield couldn’t find many faults in Virginia Tech’s starting quarterback.

“He’s a gentlemen. He just happens to wear a sword and shield when he’s out there on the field. But he is a gentlemen,” Whitfield said. “He is sharp and you can tell this is not a Hollywood-type guy. He’s not a guy who’s rushing back to the Sunday paper after games to check stats.

“There was no, ‘If someone had done this, I could’ve thrown for 400 yards.’ Just very self-deprecating, I guess. He’s just grounded, and that’s what you want whether it’s a win or a loss.”

By Mark Giannotto  |  11:26 AM ET, 03/27/2012

 
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