At some point every day this month, Virginia Tech running back Trey Edmunds has poked his head into some coach’s office wondering about his future. Though Edmunds was a Parade all-American last year and one of the Hokies’ top incoming recruits, the looming decision over whether he will redshirt or play right away has been all he can think about in recent weeks.
When Virginia Tech took the field for its final open scrimmage of the preseason Wednesday night at Lane Stadium, that dilemma took center stage. Edmunds received the most work of any tailback on the roster, gaining a team-high 57 yards on 12 carries as he tried to prove his value with the regular season looming less than two weeks away.
“I try to see what they’re thinking, but they don’t let me,” Edmunds said of his daily excursions to the coaches’ offices. “Every time I ask them, every time I’m around, they never give me a direct answer. They just want me to come out here and prove myself in practice or the scrimmages, so they said they’re going to grade the film tonight and they should be letting me know tomorrow morning or tonight.”
At first glance, it would appear Edmunds might end up on the outside looking in. In addition to having four other running backs ahead of him on the depth chart – redshirt freshman Michael Holmes, freshman J.C. Coleman and seniors Martin Scales and Tony Gregory – Edmunds also had two fumbles Wednesday night.
“He showed his ability and then he showed being a freshman,” Coach Frank Beamer said after a scrimmage he felt didn’t have the sort of “sharpness” he expected at the end of the preseason.
Running backs coach Shane Beamer believes Edmunds is physically prepared to play college football right now, but it’s the mental part he worries about at this point. Beamer said the coaches would likely have to use him in specialized packages, and that could “limit what you do in the game.”
“But that’s not a knock on Trey, that’s how you’d feel about any true freshman,” Beamer added. “If we had played Michael Holmes last year, it’s the same thing. Michael Holmes’s knowledge of the offense is like night and day, last year at this time compared to where it is now.”
Whether that’s worth burning a year of Edmunds’s eligibility will be debated over the coming days. There’s always a chance the coaches could put off a decision and place him on the travel squad without playing him, like they did last year with wide receiver Demitri Knowles and in 2010 with linebacker Chase Williams.
“We haven’t really discussed it, but Trey could be a guy . . . where we just keep working with him throughout the season and maybe by game three or four we see where things are,” Shane Beamer said.
●As for the two redshirt decisions that were still up in the air at wide receiver it appears at least one candidate has been eliminated from consideration to play right away. Freshman Joel Caleb finished without a catch and gained zero yards on two rushes in Wednesday’s scrimmage.
Wide receiver Joshua Stanford, meanwhile, finished with two catches for 27 yards. If senior D.J. Coles, who sat out Wednesday’s scrimmage as he continues his recovery from offseason knee surgery, isn’t able to play against Georgia Tech, Stanford would be the Hokies’ sixth receiver.
●It was an encouraging performance for the defense, which finished with nine sacks. In particular, the first unit made life miserable for back-up quarterback Mark Leal. He was sacked nine times. The second-team defensive backs also showed improvement, with freshman cornerback Donaldven Manning finishing with five tackles. Classmate Donovan Riley also had an interception. More on them in the coming days.
●On the injury front, defensive end James Gayle’s ankle still wasn’t healthy enough for him to participate in the scrimmage. Linebacker Tariq Edwards was still using a crutch and sat in the stands Wednesday. Safety Michael Cole was also in a blue jersey and did not play.
●It would seem after two scrimmages that freshman A.J. Hughes is the favorite to be Virginia Tech’s starting punter. He was once again more consistent than classmate Hunter Windmuller, finishing with a 41.8-yard average on four punts. Hughes even had one downed at the 1-yard line.
Notable statistics from Wednesday’s action:
PASSING – Logan Thomas 11-20, 160 yards, 1 TD; Mark Leal 7-12, 70 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; Trey Gresh 5-10, 95 yards
RUSHING – Edmunds 12-57; Scales 10-42, 1 TD; Holmes 41 yards, 2 TDs; Coleman 8-29, 1 TD; Knowles 1-24
RECEIVING – Duan Perez-Means 2-53; Eric Martin 2-52; Corey Fuller 2-40; Kevin Asante 2-30; Stanford 2-27; Randall Dunn 2-18; Dyrell Roberts 2-18; Marcus Davis 2-15; Willie Byrn 1-30, 1 TD; Knowles 1-13; Ryan Malleck 1-13, 1 TD; Coleman 1-6
DEFENSIVE STANDOUTS – Greg Jones 6 tackles, 1 forced fumble; Desmond Frye 6 tackles; Boye Aromire 5 tackles; Donaldven Manning 5 tackles; Bruce Taylor 5 tackles, 1 sack, 1.5 TFLs; Antoine Hopkins 5 tackles; DeWayne Alford 4 tackles, 1 sack; Corey Marshall 4 tackles, 1 sack, 1.5 TFLs; Jeron Gouveia-Winslow 3 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 pass break-up; Luther Maddy 3 tackles, 1 sack, 1.5 TFLs; J.R. Collins 3 tackles, 2 QB hurries Deon Clarke 2 tackles, 1 sack; Ronny Vandyke 2 tackles, 1 sack; Ken Ekanem 2 tackles, 1 sack, 1.5 TFLs, 1 pass break-up; Donovan Riley 1 tackle, INT
PUNTING – Hughes 4-167 (41.8-yard average); Windmuller 3-114 (38-yard average)
KICKING – Cody Journell 3-3 (39, 25, 22); Brooks Abbott 1-2 (26, 45 miss)