Any doubts about tailback Cedric Humes being healthy enough for Virginia Tech's season opener against top-ranked Southern Cal in a week were eliminated about midway through the final scrimmage Saturday, when Humes made a one-handed catch of a swing pass out of the backfield and eluded two tacklers for a 10-yard gain.

Humes had missed nearly all contact drills and both other scrimmages recovering from a broken left leg and ligament damage to his ankle during the first scrimmage of spring ball. Coach Frank Beamer said that barring any setbacks during this week's preparations, Humes would start against the Trojans.

"I know he feels good about it," Beamer said. "As long as he feels good about it, I think we'll be okay."

Humes was not among the limited number of players Tech made available to speak after a 55-play scrimmage, but teammates and trainer Mike Goforth were pleased that a difficult rehabilitation has gone so well.

"He looked great," Goforth said. "He tweaked his hamstring a bit, but nothing that would keep him out of anything. He's one of the best kids I've ever dealt with. . . . I think he's going to be fine."

Redshirt junior Justin Hamilton will be Humes's backup. He was recruited four years ago as a tailback but has played in games only as a wide receiver. He has run well in the scrimmages, with 29 yards on five carries Saturday. Humes had 11 yards on three carries in addition to that one catch.

"I'm glad we have a healthy backfield," Hamilton said. "That was most important for me. I know how gratifying it was for Cedric."

The scrimmage featured quarterback Bryan Randall generally throwing well, with 14 completions in 22 tries for 154 yards and a six-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Eddie Royal (Westfield). Royal had four catches for 24 yards and also was active returning punts and kickoffs.

There were two glaring errors offensively, however. One was a fumble near the goal line caused by Randall bumping into fullback John Kinzer. Backup cornerback Roland Minor (H. D. Woodson) seemed to recover the ball, with Randall in pursuit, but Beamer whistled the play dead.

Later, backup defensive end Chris Ellis made a nice play on what appeared to be a middle screen to Humes, grabbing the ball for what may well have been a touchdown. Randall was the only player capable of making the tackle, and Beamer again stopped the action.

"I was protecting the quarterback," Beamer said.