Inch for inch, 5-foot-7 Mike Imoh might have more nicknames than anyone in college football: Flea Mo, Flea Man, Wee Man, Mighty Mo, Little Mo and the one that seems most appropriate just now for Virginia Tech, Little Big Man.
"He's our next big back right now," cornerback Eric Green said of Imoh, who in his first career start at tailback Saturday carried the ball 30 times for 115 yards and had another 91 combined yards catching passes and returning kickoffs and punts during the Hokies' 19-13 victory over then-No. 6 West Virginia.
Skeptics have been looking at Imoh for years and asking: Why? As in why would someone so short, even with the staggering numbers he amassed against elite competition at Robinson High, choose to play at a level that all but demands a much bigger frame for tailbacks? To all the whys, Imoh always responds with: Why not?
The latest doubt popped up this week, after Imoh suffered postgame cramping and a hamstring tug that will limit his practice time before Saturday's game at Wake Forest. Is 30 carries per game too much?
"Not at all," he said. "I'll get in better shape every week. I'll be fine."
Running backs coach Billy Hite agreed, sort of.
"The jury's still out, [but] there's no reason why he can't," Hite said. "When we're in a situation like we were," against the Mountaineers, "I wasn't going with anybody else. And he doesn't want anybody else in there."
Imoh returned punts and kickoffs against West Virginia because freshman Eddie Royal suffered a mild concussion on Tech's first offensive snap, which kept him sidelined the remainder of the first half. Royal caught five passes in the second half but did not return kicks as a precaution. Other than Royal and Imoh, whose 30.5-yard average on kickoffs last season was third nationally, Tech has no one with the sort of burst necessary to turn a punt or kickoff return into a long gain.
Royal also will be limited in practice this week but expects to be active on returns Saturday.
ACC Honor for Fuller
Teammates keep reminding senior free safety Vincent Fuller that he'll be the answer to a significant trivia question: Who was the first Tech player to win an individual football honor in the ACC? Fuller was named the league's defensive player of the week after causing a fumble that helped set up a field goal, returning a blocked field goal attempt 74 yards for a touchdown and intercepting a pass that ensured victory over the Mountaineers.
"I feel blessed," Fuller said. "It's something I'll always remember."
Adibi Could Be on Way Back
Coach Frank Beamer said it was "a possibility" that redshirt freshman linebacker Xavier Adibi would recover from his torn biceps tendon in time for the Oct. 16 home game against Florida A&M. Adibi has been out since he suffered the injury during the season-opening loss to Southern Cal. . . .
Place kicker Brandon Pace credited an upbeat message quarterback Bryan Randall left on his cell phone a few hours after he missed the game-winning field goal attempt against North Carolina State for helping regain the confidence necessary to make four of five kicks against West Virginia. . . .
In the offseason some three years ago, Tech's offensive staff spent time with its counterparts at Wake Forest and later implemented several plays. Cracked Beamer, "Should have sent the defensive staff, too."