GREENSBORO, N.C. — Determining just how Virginia Tech will replace ACC player of the year David Wilson this year will be a story line throughout the team’s training camp next month. But on Monday at the ACC’s annual kickoff event, Coach Frank Beamer confirmed the competition will feature one of the team’s highest-rated 2012 recruits.
Freshman Trey Edmunds, who starred at both running back and linebacker in high school, will start his Hokies career in the offensive backfield, Beamer said. Edmunds was a Parade all-American last year when he rushed for 2,596 yards and 33 touchdowns as a senior at Dan River High in Ringgold, Va.
“Right now I think that’s where the real need is,” Beamer said. “That’s where a guy can come in and play right now, and play a lot right now. I think he has that type of ability.”
Beamer reiterated that he believes Edmunds will eventually play on both sides of the ball before his Virginia Tech career is over, but that for his freshman campaign Edmunds will focus solely on offense.
Eventually, the Hokies will use Edmunds in a variety of packages.
“If he’s your tailback, he may end up being inserted in packages on defense, nickel packages or whatever. Or if he’s on defense, he might be in your goal line package on offense,” Beamer said. “One way or the other, in the end he’s probably gonna play on both sides because I think he’s a terrific talent. But I think right now, coming in on our football team right now, if he can come in and get comfortable, he can help us at that tailback position.”
However, it doesn’t mean Edmunds is the favorite to win the starting job out of training camp. That distinction still belongs to redshirt freshman Michael Holmes, who proved to be the team’s most consistent running back during spring practice.
Beamer said he wants to go into the season with three running backs he’s comfortable using, although he conceded many of the Hokies’ options are inexperienced. Other possibilities include freshmen J.C. Coleman and Chris Mangus, converted fullback Martin Scales and redshirt junior Tony Gregory.
But Beamer believes tailback is a position where youth can excel right away in college football, and he expressed confidence that Holmes would be able to continue Virginia Tech’s run of quality running backs.
“It’s kind of like sitting here with Logan Thomas last year,” Beamer said of Holmes, who was the Virginia AA offensive player of the year during his junior and senior years at Harrisonburg High. “He hasn’t done it, but you think he’s gonna be okay and that’s the way I feel about Michael Holmes. I think he’s got a chance to be very good. When guys have done it in high school and are used to carrying the ball and not fumbling, usually that carries over.”
For his part, Thomas believes the Hokies will go with a running back by committee approach similar to what happened two years ago when Ryan Williams, Darren Evans and Wilson – all of whom are now in the NFL – split carries. Last season, Wilson rushed for a school-record 1,709 yards.
“That 1,700 yards is gonna be made up by three different people,” Thomas said. “You’re gonna have to respect those guys.”